Fight for a $15 minimum wage in B.C. or for better job training?

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[Take your choice. Does raising the minimum wage = job losses?Higher minimum wage? Small business doesn't mind, A minimum wage hike could help employers too, 5 Right-Wing myths about raising the minimum wage, debunked. Although, if you go to the original article and read the comments, I'm pretty sure that Province readers don't want their equilibrium disturbed by the facts. *RON*]

By Sam Coopers, The Province, 26 November 2014

The BC Federation of Labour held a rally today to launch the Fight For $15 campaign to increase the minimum wage.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says calls to raise B.C.’s minimum wage by 50 per cent will actually hurt low-income workers and small businesses.

On Tuesday the B.C. Federation of Labour launched its “Fight For $15” campaign, urging the provincial government to increase B.C.’s minimum wage from $10.25 to $15 per hour.

Supported by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and First Nations leader Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Fed president Jim Sinclair fired up a rain-soaked rally in Vancouver, shouting that stagnant wages are miring families in poverty as living costs continue to rise.

“The people power of B.C. forced Victoria to raise the minimum wage to $10.25 two and a half years ago,” Sinclair said. “But at the current minimum wage, working full-time is not enough to lift a worker out of poverty.”

“Our city is facing incredible pressure on affordability,” Robertson said. “We need to have a strong minimum wage.”

“Poverty kills — it’s as simple as that,” Grand Chief Phillip said.

There are more than 120,000 B.C. workers earning the minimum wage, and 47 per cent are older than 25 according to the B.C. Fed.

Sinclair pointed to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Insights West, that suggests 72 per cent of those polled support an increase to $15 per hour, and 75 per cent support “making a significant and immediate increase to the minimum wage.”

The Federation believes that increasing B.C.’s minimum wage will not only help alleviate poverty, but pump money into local economies, as low-income earners spend more.

But CFIB’s B.C. director Richard Truscott said that raising the minimum wage floor substantially and quickly, “can do some real damage to the economy.”

Truscott said that “the smallest of the smallest” businesses in hospitality and retail sectors would bear the brunt of wage raises and could become unprofitable, which could lead to job cuts.

“Raising the minimum wage is a blunt tool that can have some serious consequences, and end up hurting the people it aims to help,” Truscott said. “We like to say the best minimum wage policy is a strong economy.”

Truscott said that the government should focus on training and education programs to create more jobs at the low-income end of the scale, or reform the tax code to benefit low-income earners. Victoria would actually benefit slightly from a higher minimum wage, Truscott believes, with increased payroll tax revenue. But instead the government should reduce taxes on low-income earners to alleviate cost of living burdens without jeopardizing jobs, Truscott said.

In a statement, Jobs and Labour Minister Shirley Bond said Victoria will continue to monitor inflation along with input from labour and business leaders, in considering any changes to the minimum wage rate. In March, when Sinclair asked Premier Christy Clark to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour, Clark said raising the wage above $10.25 could hurt job creation in B.C. In May, Ontario raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour, currently the highest in Canada.