Posted February 17, 2015
Jamie O’Keeffe knows first-hand how difficult it is to get by on a low wage in B.C. — the most she’s ever made even while raising her two children was less than $11.65 an hour.
“I’ve worked for low wages practically all my life,” said the 56-year-old temp worker.
“It’s hard to make a go of it.”
O’Keeffe was one of several dozen sign-toting activists gathered in downtown Vancouver on Sunday calling on the provincial government to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Chants to raise the wage echoed across the busy intersection at Howe and Dunsmuir, in front of the Vancouver headquarters of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The noisy weekend rally grabbed the attention — and the occasional solidarity honk — of curious passersby.
ACORN Canada and the B.C. Federation of Labour organized the rally as part of their province-wide campaign, titled Fight For 15.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who work full time and live in poverty,” said newly elected B.C. Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger.
“You have to actually earn $15 to be above the poverty line.”
B.C.’s minimum wage has been $10.25 since summer 2011, though workers who serve alcohol can be paid $9 an hour.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business issued a statement in anticipation of Sunday’s event, saying a minimum wage hike to $15 would ultimately result in the loss of between 54,000 and 196,000 jobs.
But Lanzinger contested those claims, saying employment actually increased when the minimum wage was last boosted in B.C.
“We think people should earn more than poverty wages when they work,” said Lanzinger.
“And that’s possible and do-able in a province like British Columbia.”
Article by Geordon Omand for Metro News Vancouver