The Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce has concerns about a recently announced provincial hike to the minimum wage.
The B.C. government announced Wednesday that as of June 1, the provincial minimum wage will go from $15.65 to $16.75 per hour, a 6.9 per cent increase that the government framed as keeping up with inflation.
Since then, many small businesses and business chambers around the province have voiced their displeasure with the change.
In a press release issued Thursday, the local chamber added their thoughts to those frustrations.
"For a city like Penticton, the first thing we’ll see are those residents on fixed incomes, primarily our seniors, lose even more buying power as employers raise prices to compensate for higher labour costs,” says chamber president Nicole Clark.
“And the sectors where you’ll most likely see this occur include hospitality, food and beverage, and retail, including grocery stores.”
The chamber warned that, in their opinion, the short notice from the provincial government means likely, worker hours will be cut.
"The most controllable expense in business is labour, so whether you’re a small business owner or a manager in a large corporation, if you don’t want- or can’t pass this added expense onto your customers, you instead reduce employee hours wherever you can, which essentially cancels out the increase," said Michael Magnusson, executive director.
The chamber also pointed to a recent Penticton council decision that will see the Business Tax Multiplier — the rate that businesses are charged in comparison to residential rate payers to maintain the tax burden equally — increased to 2.22, costing the average Penticton commercial property owner an additional $617 in annual taxes.
"The Chamber is a bit like the canary in the coal mine at the moment,” claims Clark.
“We, along with other chambers and business owners are trying to sound the alarm that if all of these government forces from municipal up to the provincial and federal levels continue to independently load more expenses onto the backs of the businesses, the collective result will be increases in commercial insolvencies and reductions in access to goods and services, community vibrancy, and the competitive forces that are needed keep prices as low and standards as high as possible.”