Minister of Labour Harry Bains took the next step toward raising British Columbia’s lowest paid workers with the official launch of the Fair Wages Commission.
The commission, which will function at an arm's length to government, is tasked with putting forward a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and making recommendations to address the discrepancy between the minimum wage and living wages. They will also be considering and making recommendations around other wage rates under the Employment Standards Regulation.
“No one working full time in British Columbia should be living beneath the poverty line,” said Bains. “We’re going to lift up B.C.’s lowest paid workers to help make life more affordable.”
Professor and economist Marjorie Griffin Cohen will oversee the work of the commission as chair, with vice-president of the B.C. Business Council Ken Peacock and union leader Ivan Limpright as members.
“I’m hopeful our work will strengthen the economy, while serving as a stepping stone towards lifting people out of poverty,” said Cohen.
“We welcome the establishment of a fair wages commission, which was a B.C. Green Party policy put forth in our 2017 election platform. B.C. workers and businesses are increasingly facing challenges arising out of trends like increasing unaffordability, the gig economy, automation, and the increasing prevalence of contract and part-time work. It is vital that this commission take into account these trends in a non-partisan fashion, as it advises on strategies to achieve the ultimate goal of ensuring all British Columbians have livable incomes,” said Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
The Fair Wages Commission has been directed to work with economists, trade unions, the technology sector, small businesses, youth and others from all regions of the province to put forward a plan to bridge the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage in British Columbia.
Media RelationsMinistry of Labour
Commission chair: Marjorie Griffin Cohen
Marjorie is an economist who is professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University. She has written extensively in the areas of political economy and public policy, with special emphasis on issues concerning the Canadian economy and labour. She has also served on several boards and commissions in B.C., and was instrumental in establishing the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in B.C., where she was its first chair. Among the various awards she has received over her career, she recently was the recipient of the 2016 John Kenneth Galbraith Prize in economics and social justice.
Commission member and labour-force representative: Ivan Limpright
For more than 30 years, Limpright has served as an accomplished union leader. Since 1994, he has held various roles in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, including being its president since 2006. Known for his capacity to build strategic alliances with organizations that support and encourage the strength and growth of working people, Limpright has worked on several boards in the past decade. He is a graduate of the Labour and Worklife program at Harvard and is completing studies at the Rotman’s leadership program at the University of Toronto.
Commission member, and business and industry representative: Ken Peacock
Ken is chief economist and vice-president at the Business Council of British Columbia, an association representing 260 large and mid-sized companies that together account for approximately one-quarter of all jobs in the province. In this capacity, Peacock contributes to the council’s work on economic and policy issues of interest to the business community. Peacock was born and raised in B.C. He attained his master’s degree in economics from Simon Fraser University, is a past president of the Association of Professional Economists of B.C. and a member of B.C.'s Economic Forecast Council.