Not everyone in the House of Labour is happy about the B.C. NDP's broken promise on the minimum wage.
On Wednesday (September 27), International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada members held a demonstration in East Vancouver, calling on the party to honour its commitment to lift the minimum wage to $15 per hour in its first term in office.
“We were promised a $15 an hour minimum wage to raise the lowest paid workers above the poverty line by 2021 by the B.C. NDP before they became government and now we expect them to act on that promise as soon as possible,” ILWU Canada president Rob Ashton said in a news release.
A young ILWU member, Danielle Burgess, said in the same news release that she spent a decade in the restaurant industry earning the minimum wage—and, at times, less than that. It left her scrambling to cover her rent.
“A fair minimum wage is something I believe every human deserves to have," Burgess declared. "Security in life is something that is so important—$15 an hour is a start to helping people get on their feet, and I am proud to help fight like hell for them to achieve it.”
B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger emceed the event, which included the Labour Community Choir performing the "Fight for 15" song.
The labour movement was thrilled in 2016 when NDP Leader and now Premier John Horgan announced with great fanfare that his party would boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021 if elected.
In August Labour Minister Harry Bains said the government still supports a $15 per hour minimum wage. However, he said it wasn't going to stick to its previous deadline.
This came in response to Green Leader Andrew Weaver's call for the government to first hear the results of an independent fair-wage commission.
That hasn't sat well with Ashton and ILWU Canada members.
“Those low paid workers need help soon—we don’t want them to wait up to four years or more for that minimum wage, which will only just keep them out of poverty,” Ashton said.
B.C.'s minimum wage is $11.35 per hour, putting it in the middle of the pack among Canadian provinces and territories.
Alberta, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut all have a higher minimum wage than B.C., but Quebec, Atlantic Canadian provinces, and Saskatchewan each have a lower minimum wage than $11.35 per hour.