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Minimum wage increased

Few Whistlerites will benefit from change



The minimum wage in B.C. increased 75 cents May 1 without much fanfare for most people in Whistler.

David Vlemmix, one of the owners of the Dairy Queen in Whistler, said his business isn't impacted because he pays greater than minimum wage anyway.

" (And) we offer a bonus structure to keep employees," said Vlemmix. Lift passes are also available to loyal DQ employees.

The minimum wage is now $8.75 an hour. The increase is part of the provincial government's families-first agenda.

Alcohol servers will only get a 50-cent rise for now. The changes are part of a three-stage increase resulting in a liquor server minimum wage of $9 per hour and a general wage of $10.25 per hour after May 1 next year.

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members on the issue last December and 50 members responded with 79 per cent indicating a minimum wage increase wouldn't impact them.

Kendra Mazzei, chair of the Whistler Chamber, said minimum wage hasn't been a topic of discussion for the Chamber since the survey was done.

"We really haven't heard a lot from our membership," she said.

Anti-poverty organizations applauded the change while the Fraser Institute issued a news release indicating the organization believes the increase could result in the loss of as many as 52,000 jobs across the province.

"While increasing the minimum wage may be done with good intentions, the facts show that it has very negative consequences," said Nels Veldhuis, an economist with the Fraser Institute. "When governments impose high labour costs on businesses, employers react by hiring fewer workers and reducing the number of hours employees work."

The Fraser Institute gathered research and claimed that an increase in the minimum wage often leads to fewer employee benefits and less training for workers.

The First Job Wage program is no longer in place. Training wages are no longer available for employers who hire people new to the job market.

Non-hourly rates paid to people who live where they work were adjusted in proportion to the minimum wage increase. Live-in support workers must now be paid $87.50 a day and that amount will jump to $102.50 a day next May.

According to Statistics Canada, 2.3 per cent of the paid employees (about 41,200 people) in B.C. earned $8 an hour or less in 2009.