Premier Gordon Campbell addressed the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention on October 1 discussing many ways in which to move British Columbia’s economy forward. Topics such as extending the Skytrain through Surrey to Langley, providing additional funds for cycling paths and sidewalks, and donating $1 million to communities hosting future BC Winter Games and BC Summer Games made the list. However, the ongoing question of whether or not to raise the minimum wage to $10 was not answered or discussed at all.
B.C.’s lowest-paid workers have not seen a raise since 2001, when the minimum wage was increased to $8 an hour. To add more frustration to the nine year wait for another raise, the B.C. Liberals introduced the $6 training wage required of those with less than 500 hours of work.
Seeing as students and youth 25 and under may make up a decent portion of B.C.’s lowest-paid workers, an increase in minimum wage could make an impact on how often they work, how well they do in school, or even open up opportunities to get a post-secondary education. I caught up with a few young B.C. residents to see what they thought.
“I’m currently working so I can build a strong enough financial base so I can start thinking about going back to school. I’m 25 years old, and I don’t have enough money to go back to school. There’s something wrong with that. If it were to be raised to $10 an hour, that would make post-secondary an option rather than what it is now, which is a really far-flung hope.” – Tyrel, 25
“I definitely think it should be raised. The cost of living in Vancouver in general right now is super high. I don’t believe it reflects the inflation there’s been over the years. Being a student, I can’t really even think about moving out on my own because I can’t work enough hours, I can’t even afford a car. It’s delayed my graduation time because I take one less course than most people because I know I can’t handle a full course load. I work 20-25 hours a week and I can’t do both school and work perfectly. I still have to work part-time so my school work suffers for it.”- Stephanie, 21
“Firstly I think it’s ridiculous how just to be able to pay my way through school I have to work two jobs even with a full student loan just to be able to afford school. Just with the economy and the rising prices, they need to equal everything out. ” - Devon, 20
BC has the lowest-minimum wage in all of Canada, and if it’s affecting youth, making it almost necessary for them to work while in school, or hindering them from gaining further education, it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed.
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