By Christopher Sun
The latest increase to minimum wage will likely result in higher youth unemployment, say some local businesses.
Minimum wage went up Nov. 1 to $9.50 per hour, up from $8.75.
“It’s harder for me to pay them that much when they have zero experience,” said Ingrid James, owner of Printingdun Beanery, about younger people entering the workforce. “I get a gazillion resumes that say ‘babysitting’ and ‘lawn mowing’ for experience.”
James agreed that the minimum wage needed to be increased as it had been $8 per hour for 10 years, before it moved to $8.75 six months ago. However, she thinks the increases should have been smaller and spaced out more instead of three large increases in 18 months. She also felt that the training wage should have stayed.
“Before I brought in kids to give them experience because I could pay them a little less,” she added. “I’ll be looking at more experienced people now.”
Peter Richmond, president of 49th Parallel Grocery agreed that the minimum wage needed to go up, but said there needs to be incentives to hire younger people as business will likely hire experienced and more mature people instead.
“It does make sense, people can’t live on $8.75 an hour,” Richmond said. “But this will have negative consequences for the youth.”
That negative consequence scares Grade 11 student Hailey Primrose, who is looking for a job.
“It will be better for kids going off to school so we can better afford it,” Primrose said about the minimum wage increase. “But we won’t get the chance to get the experience (if employers don’t hire us).”
However, Grade 12 student Connor Milne, who plans to be working next year, wasn’t worried.
“Lots of businesses don’t hire young people because they aren’t mature,” Milne said. “As long as I can show that I’m a good worker I don’t think it’s going to be difficult.”
Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce president Rob Waters has not heard any complaints from members regarding this latest hike. He thinks the hike is justified, even though the economy is down.
“B.C. is an expensive place to live in,” Waters said. “Even with this increase, we are still [one of ] the lowest in Canada.”
With this latest increase, B.C. now has the third lowest minimum wage rate in Canada. Yukon is the lowest at $9.00 and Alberta is $9.40. The highest is Nunavut at $11 and the second highest is Ontario at $10.25. B.C.’s minimum wage will increase one more time to $10.25 in May.
B.C. also has a separate minimum wage for liquor servers. That wage is now $8.75 per hour and will soon increase to $9.