Reported by Orvis Noel
Mayoral candidate Meena Wong is promising Vancouverites a $15 minimum wage if she wins the municipal election on Nov. 15.
Wong was a community organizer before she accepted the nomination for COPE. She is concerned that residents working for minimum wage in Vancouver, including students, are often living below the poverty line.
“The provincial wage of $10.25 is not a living wage,” said Wong. “It is time for students to rise up and be treated with respect.” Vancouver students say a higher minimum wage is enough to grant their vote to COPE.
Beneficial to students
Langara English student Sina Weldeten works part time and cannot get a student loan. “I totally agree with the increase,” Weldeten said.
Hermit Gill, SFU criminology student, thinks the minimum wage now is fine but a higher wage will make him vote COPE.
Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs agrees the minimum wage is too low, but worries that Wong is simply making a strategic pre-election move.
Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of British Columbia Restaurant & Foodservices Association, said, the minimum wage is up 30 per cent after 10 years.
“This is good,” he said. “It is not a shock to business.”
It won’t happen immediately
Tostenson said Wong is running to appeal to a certain demographic. “Wages are under provincial jurisdiction, we need to have a reasonable level of wage increases. Simply a political move is wrong.”
Meggs said the minimum wage increase will take time but the quicker it gets there, the better.
For students working 15 hours per week, the wage adjustment could mean an increase of $285 per month or $3,420 per year.