BC’s Minimum Wage Hikes Address Working Poverty

Posted on September 12, 2023
By Jill Zacharias

Kitchen worker busy at their job.

Minimum wage increase tied to inflation, significantly impacting working poor. 

In June 2023, the BC government raised minimum wage to $16.75 per hour, making it the one of the highest in Canada and positively impacting about 150,000 low wage workers. The provincial poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC, outlines 5 foundational elements to inform ‘transformational’ policies, including consistently increasing minimum wage. With working poverty being one of the most common forms of poverty, BC’s minimum wage policies have contributed to a gradual decline in poverty rates across the province. 


A graph showing the Minimum Wage in BC from 2015 (~$10.25) through 2023 ($16.75)

Source: Minimum Wage BC 


 A graph showing low income lines in BC from 2015 (~19) to 2023 (~9)

Source: Percentage of Persons in Low Income in BC, Market Basket Measure 2018 Base 

All persons aged 16 years and over, StatsCan (note that data is not yet available for 2022-2023).  

Note that 2020 rates were impacted by short-term pandemic benefits. 


12 pathways to eliminate working poverty

Stapleton & Yuan’s seminal publication, Ending Working Poverty in Canada: How to Get it Done, outlines 12 pathways to eliminate working poverty. Increasing minimum wage brings together the pathways for government and business, with government policy creating proactive conditions for businesses to participate in reducing poverty. At the core is recognizing the value of essential work and paying for it accordingly.  

 BC’s journey has been informed by an independent Fair Wages Commission established in October 2017, whose recommendations were accepted in full by current provincial leadership in February 2018.  


A crucial step forward

This year, for the first time the province tied the increase to inflation, recognizing it as a “key step to prevent the lowest paid workers from falling behind.” To date, BC is the only province in Canada to take this important step. 

 In BC, the high cost of living is widely recognized. In 2022, 24 communities across BC calculated a local living wage, with the Fraser Valley being the lowest at nearly $19.00 per hour, and Haida Gwaii the highest at almost $26.00 per hour, with an average of $22.29. So while there remains a significant difference between minimum wage and the cost of living, consistent policy is helping close the gap, improving the resources of low wage workers.  


Take your learning further: 

PUBLICATION | Ending Working Poverty in Canada: How to Get it Done (2021) 

WEBINAR | Ending Working Poverty in British Columbia (2021) 

BLOG | British Columbia: Pathways to Ending Working Poverty in Action (2021) 

BLOG | Introducing the Ending Working Poverty Initiative (2022) 

BLOG | Working Poverty Across Canada Before and After the Pandemic (2023) 

REPORTS | BC Fair Wages Commission 


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Living Wage, British Columbia, Poverty Reduction Strategy, Jill Zacharias, CRP Blogs, Homepage Blog, Communities Ending Poverty

Jill Zacharias

By Jill Zacharias

Jill has recently joined the Vibrant Communities team as the BC Manager of Growth and Impact, Cities Reducing Poverty. Jill brings extensive experience in municipal government, social planning and poverty reduction, and has worked closely with Tamarack as a CRP member and as chair of the BC Community of Practice on Poverty Reduction.

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