Minimum wage increase pondered

Candidates in the upcoming provincial election disagreed on whether an increase to minimum wage is necessary.

Candidates in the upcoming provincial election agreed that the minimum wage provides little, but disagreed on whether an increase is necessary.

The question was raised at a youth forum at Summerland Secondary School on Friday morning.

Two years ago, the B.C. Liberals increased the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10.25 an hour.

Liberal candidate Dan Ashton said the increase was long overdue and added that the province will examine the rate again in the future.

“People need the opportunity to take home something for more than just subsistence,” he said.

New Democratic Party candidate Richard Cannings said his party has worked to increase the wage in the past. The New Democras will continue to examine the wage and the cost of living.

Even with the last increase, Cannings said the minimum wage level does not provide a living wage. He added that in the Okanagan, a living wage of $17 to $18 an hour is needed.

Doug Maxwell of B.C. First said the provincial minimum wage should be tied to inflation. He said the last raise given to members of the B.C. Legislature was indexed to keep up with inflation.

Sean Upshaw of the Conservatives questioned the need to increase the province’s minimum wage.

“Where it is now is where it should be,” he sad.

He added that increasing the minimum wage would hurt businesses as it would increase costs.

“It would be a drag on the economy if we increased it too much,” he said.