Minimum wage workers in B.C. are getting a 45 cent pay increase on June 1st, the province’s labour minister announced Monday.

Minister Harry Bains says the general minimum wage will be increasing from $15.20 to $15.65 an hour, making it the highest in the country.

With the increase, B.C. has also become the first province to tie minimum wage increases to inflation. Last year the rate was 2.8 per cent.

Bains says the decision to use the provincial rate of inflation rather than the national rate was made to better reflect the needs of B.C. workers.

He says the increase is expected to attract more workers to the province, while providing certainty of costs for businesses.

“B.C. had one of the lowest minimum wages in the country prior to 2017 but was one of the most expensive places to live,” said Bains.

“We do not want our lowest-paid workers to fall behind. The minimum wage increases tied to inflation are part of our plan to build an economy that works for everyone.”

Bains says a commission travelled the province consulting businesses and others affected by the minimum wage, and it suggested the increase.

He says the government is still waiting for its recommendations to address the difference between the minimum wage and a so-called living wage.

Last year, 136,300 people in B.C., or six per cent, earned minimum wage or less. Among those employees, 52 per cent were over the age of 25 and 58 per cent were women.

The 2.8 per cent increase will also apply to the live-in camp leader and live-in home support worker minimum daily wages.

Minimum piece rates will also see a jump due to the inflation rate for hand harvesting of 15 specified crops in the agricultural sector,  including peaches, apricots, Brussels sprouts, daffodils, mushrooms, apples, beans, blueberries, cherries, grapes, pears, peas, prune plums, raspberries, and strawberries.

Last year, the province increased the minimum wage from $14.60 and the hourly wage of $13.95 for liquor servers was replaced with the general minimum wage.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Adam Reaburn is the owner of Moose FM and Energeticcity.ca. Adam has been working in broadcasting for over 20 years. Adam and his wife Tammy have lived in Fort St. John for over 18 years.