Surrey Board of Trade Focuses on Today’s Minimum Wage Increase and Impact to Small Business

By 2021, BC’s Minimum Wage will increase to $15/hour. The current minimum wage sits at $10.85/hour. Effective September 15, the general minimum wage will increase from $10.85 to $11.35 and the liquor server wage will increase from $9.60 to $10.10. That will put B.C. from the seventh-highest rate in Canada to the third-highest among provinces.

In 2016, the Surrey Board of Trade surveyed their 2,400 members to find out how they feel about impending minimum wage increases.

“Regarding minimum wage, the results of the survey did support the Surrey Board of Trade’s current policy which is to have the minimum wage indexed to the Consumer Price Index, with predictable and consistent increases so that businesses can adjust without undue impact – especially on the small to medium sized employers,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. Nearly 70% of SBOT respondents work for companies that employ 50 employees or less, the rest more, with 23% in companies with over 100 employees.

Small businesses argue minimum wage increases will make it even more difficult for them to make ends meet amid a growing number of rising costs. Small-business owners in B.C. say a minimum-wage hike will likely force them to cut costs, including jobs, and potentially raise prices of their products and services.

Businesses will be forced to adjust either by changing their service level or finding ways to improve productivity.

Rounding out the survey’s questions was an opportunity for respondents to comment. Always informative, comments from members ranged from those who “do not agree with this living wage concept, you want better wages, get more training,” to believing that a “living wage is a moral imperative. Structural poverty is not what society is about.” Most fell in between and focused on how businesses would be able to manage. Some of the impact comments that our members will experience include: everything will go up on a menu; need regular increases but cannot leap to $15 as it places too high of a burden on businesses; increases do not keep up with cost of living and businesses will pay later; and, several respondents commented that the increase will further fuel technological substitution.

“The concept of a fair wage commission which is being discussed right now and its impact to business is of interest to the Surrey Board of Trade.”