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B.C. businesses mixed on minimum wage hikes

Kelowna workers welcome wage increase as local businesses consider cuts in response.
Minimum wage increase
British Columbia's increased minimum wage will be coming into effect in June 2024.

Kelowna businesses are giving a mixed reaction to the minimum wage increase coming to B.C. in June, when the hourly wage goes from $16.75 to $17.40 — an increase of 3.9 per cent.

“I think it’s good that the minimum wage is going up for people on the bottom rung. It’s really difficult for people to make ends meet these days. The cost of food is through the roof and people need this extra money," said Dan Price board chair of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

"That being said, it’s just another example of another cost for business. We’ve had a bit of a death by 1,000 cuts situation here in B.C. over the last number of years and it’s really a situation the government needs to address at some point. The cost of business and doing business in B.C. is higher than it’s ever been and it’s a struggle for businesses and it needs to be addressed.”

Moving forward, the minimum wage increase will be pegged to the inflation rate.

Subcity Donair co-owner Ray Haider said the change puts pressure on small business.

“I think it’s going to hurt our business," he said. "We are thinking about not hiring anyone anymore. We are going to cut our hours off. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. we will work it ourselves because we’ve got to save some money somehow. Things are getting really tough out there."

He says the situation is a catch-22.

"I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, so that’s our thoughts, that we are going to be cutting staff down. We just can’t afford that kind of money right now.”

Kelowna residents on the street who Castanet spoke with also had mixed reactions.

“I think it’s interesting. I think it’s needed because, obviously tough times economically, but I also understand the impact of small business and it’s tough for them because wage is one of the biggest line items for them, but overall I think it’s necessary because the cost of living is just skyrocketing,” said Cindy.

Kelowna resident Max adds, “My first reaction was to keep it the way it is. I think nowadays there’s so many opportunities for people to get education and to raise their wage by their own efforts as opposed to relying on the government saying hey we’ve got to raise the wages for everyone, and then it just costs everyone more."

As spring is right around the corner and local businesses start hiring seasonal staff, the minimum wage increase is set to take effect on June 1.