New Democratic Party leadership candidate Nicholas Simons is calling for B.C.’s minimum wage to be increased to $12 and then tied to inflation.
Simons today (January 12) proposed raising the $8 wage by $1 every six months from April until October 2012. After that, his plan calls for the provincial minimum wage to increase annually in line with the inflation rate.
He also said B.C.’s $6 training wage is unfair and overdue to be eliminated.
“I think it’s a question of making sure that people can live on minimum wage without living below the poverty line,” the MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast told the Straight today by phone.
B.C.’s minimum wage is the lowest in the country and has been frozen since 2001.
Simons, first elected to the legislature in 2005, acknowledged potential backlash from the business community over his proposal, but emphasized he would consult about the policy.
“We’d need to have fulsome discussions about it and figure out ways that the impact would be such that people shouldn’t have a negative reaction to it,” he said.
“Nobody wants their employees working below the poverty line,” he added.
Simons suggested the additional spending power of low-income earners would benefit local economies. He added the potential reversal of the harmonized sales tax could offset some of the impact on businesses of a minimum-wage increase.
He described his proposal as a “policy goal” and said he hopes to rally support from NDP members.
Simons, deputy Opposition critic for housing and social development, declared his candidacy for the party leadership on January 5.
Three other declared candidates are also campaigning for the leadership, which is to be decided by a party vote April 17.
They include Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali and marijuana activist Dana Larsen.
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