Over 56,000 residents have put pen to paper supporting a $15 minimum wage in BC.
The BC Federation of Labour has been lobbying for this over the past couple of years.
BCFED President Irene Lanzinger says the numbers speak for themselves.
“We collected 30,000 signatures on-line and we’ve done polling several times with people being polled on the minimum wage. We know a lot of support has been shown from the public and now we need to get a government to implement it.”
The remaining 26,000 signatures were collected by hand at various public transit areas across the province.
According to Lanzinger the idea of better wages seems to be resonating with the public. “I think it makes sense to people to when you say people shouldn’t work full-time and have a wage that is below the poverty line. A minimum wage worker is $4,000 below the poverty line even if they work full-time and that doesn’t seem fair to people because it isn’t fair.”
As of May 1, employees in Quebec will earn higher minimum wages than their BC counterparts at $11.25 per hour.
BC currently sits at $10.85 and is in the middle of the pack with the rest of the provinces.
The provincial NDP continues to champion a $15 an hour minimum wage if elected May 9, a move Lanzinger says is already being adopted elsewhere and has been quite successful.
“We haven’t had a loss of jobs or an increase in prices. Seattle has a plan to go to 15, Alberta has a plan to go to 15 and they’re well ahead of us in terms of minimum wages.”
The concern of lost jobs and price increases went down rather quickly in the Emerald City according to Lanzinger.
“The restaurant industry in Seattle was one of the largest groups against the hike and claimed they would all go out of business but are booming right now because putting money into the pockets of low-wage workers gives them money to spend in the community.”
BC NDP Economic Development Critic Shane Simpson says the current minimum wage of $10.85 still puts low-income earners behind the eight ball.
“We’re talking about people who would work full-time making less than $23,000 a year, they need to think can they live off that salary and possibly support a family. It’s just not possible.”
Of the 500,000 British Columbians earning less than $15 per hour, 60% are women while 80% are adults.
The signatures will be presented in Victoria at the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon by BC NDP Leader John Horgan during Question Period.
(Files from Brendan Pawliw with MYPRINCEGEORGENOW)