Council is not supporting the rallying cry from municipalities and the B.C. Federation of Labour to lobby the province for an increase in the minimum wage.
“This discussion seems to me to be a bit of a waste of time,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden bluntly at Monday’s evening meeting.
She explained the provincial minimum wage standard clearly falls within the provincial mandate.
And with a hot economy in booming B.C., few people are making the $8 per hour minimum wage.
“Let’s move on to more pressing issues,” added the councillor.
Council had asked for input on the issue from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce after a presentation in August from Sandy Bauer, of the Squamish and District Labour Committee.
She appealed to council to join the more than 20 communities in the province, including Squamish, in the lobbying efforts.
The minimum wage has been frozen in B.C. since November 2001. The Federation of Labour is also asking that the minimum wage be indexed to inflation.
The Chamber’s response was short:
“The Whistler Chamber board supports the implementation of a system that triggers a review of the minimum wage on a more regular basis as this would be beneficial to all working British Columbians. We believe that the provincial minimum wage is a complicated economic issue and as such should be reviewed at the provincial level not by municipalities.”
Council did not take a position on the issue, which prompted Mayor Ken Melamed to express his disappointment.
After the meeting he explained his position further.
“The fact is I support it because I think that is a more powerful way to communicate to the province the desire to have a review,” he said. “Whether I support $10 or not, I don’t think is material. I supported the philosophical approach and frankly I personally support it because I think it speaks on behalf of the service sector workforce that we have here in Whistler. We need to send a message that we value… their contribution to the success of the resort.”
The issue of the minimum wage will be raised at the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting, which will be held in Vancouver Sept. 24-28. If passed there the UBCM will continue to lobby provincial ministers.