Minimum wage rises 20 cents

B.C.’s minimum wage has risen 20 cents to $10.45 an hour

Black Press

B.C.’s minimum wage has risen 20 cents to $10.45 an hour, the first annual increase since the provincial government tied it to the B.C. consumer price index.

It’s the first increase since 2012, when the wage was increased to $10.25. For restaurant and pub servers, the minimum wage rises from $9 to $9.20. Jobs Minister Shirley Bond has said the discount from the general minimum wage will remain at $1.25 to account for income earned in tips.

NDP labour critic Shane Simpson called the increase “dismal” and “paltry.” B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene Lanzinger said by the end of 2015, B.C. will have the second lowest minimum wage in Canada.

“Seattle will reach $15 an hour by 2017, Alberta by 2018,” Lanzinger said. “B.C.’s minimum wage will reach $15 per hour by 2034.”

Ferry fare increases below 2 per cent

BC Ferries Commissioner Gord Macatee has restricted fare increases to a maximum of 1.9 per cent for the next four years.

Macatee said calls from the public to lower fares are outside his mandate to balance the interests of ferry users and taxpayers who subsidize the service. He said earlier projections for fuel costs are stable, and the price caps are below the Bank of Canada’s target inflation rate of two per cent. The first increase would take effect April 1, 2016.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said he is encouraged by the fare caps, the lowest increases since 2004, and a four per cent increase in BC Ferries traffic since April.

Stone said the low Canadian dollar has helped BC Ferries’ tourist business, and the corporation has more work to do to cut costs.

Fishing reopens after drought closures

The B.C. government has lifted its fishing ban in the Okanagan region, joining most areas of the South Coast region where fishing was reopened earlier this week.

Fishing is reopened on the Similkameen, Kettle, Middle Shuswap and Okanagan River mainstem, after rain and cooler water temperatures reduced the risk to fish stocks.

In the South Coast region, the Seymour and Coquihalla Rivers remain closed, due to barrier restrictions from rockslides that restrict upstream migration of steelhead.

The restrictions and reopening are co-ordinated with Fisheries and Oceans Canada regulations for migratory salmon.

Liquor stores collect for Syrian relief

B.C. government liquor stores are collecting donations to help the Red Cross in its efforts to assist refugees fleeing four years of civil war and recent terrorist invasion.

Customers are asked to donate $2, $5 or multiples of that amount. Red Cross is providing emergency supplies to Syrian refugees including food, water, clothing, temporary shelter and hygiene items.

The federal government has established a $100 million fund to match donations from individual Canadians and registered charities, from now to the end of 2015. The B.C. government has also established a $1 million fund to help Syrian refugees settling in B.C.

The previous donation drive by BC Liquor Stores collected $102,000 for assistance to people affected by wildfires in the Rock Creek and Oliver areas.