B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains (Black Press)

B.C. liquor server wage to be phased out by 2021

Piece work pay for farm workers rises, but stays in place for now

The B.C. government is phasing out the $1.25 discount on its minimum wage for liquor servers, and raising the minimum pay for farm workers and other employees who make less than the general minimum wage.

The liquor server wage will begin increasing each year on June 1 until it matches the general minimum wage in 2021, Labour Minister Harry Bains said Thursday. By that time the general minimum wage will reach $15.21 an hour.

Resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders, other categories that make less than the general minimum, will also see increases on June 1.

The wage for piece-rate farm workers increases 11.5 per cent as of Jan. 1, 2019, along with the rest of the increases put in place by the B.C. NDP government. Bains said further study will be done on ending the piece work system for paying farm workers.

The Fair Wages Commission established by the province last year will study the farm worker situation until the end of this year, “in order to help us decide how these workers are to be paid effective June of next year,” Bains said.

The piece work rate increase is delayed until next year so farmers can harvest this year’s crops before covering increased wages, he said.

RELATED: Farmers say payroll tax too much for them

B.C. farmers have are already preparing to cover costs of the health tax on payrolls, coming into effect next year to recover revenue lost as the province phases out Medical Services Plan premiums. Farmers say their large casual workforce for planting and harvest don’t earn enough to pay MSP premiums, and the extra payroll tax adds thousands of dollars to their operations.

The liquor server minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour. On June 1 it increases to $11.40, with annual increases on that date to $12.70 in 2019, $13.95 in 2020 and $15.20 in 2021.

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