April 10, 2019
by PETER MITHAM
BC’s long-standing piece rate system won’t be overhauled by June 1, as recommended last year by the Fair Wages Commission.
BC labour minister Harry Bains endorsed the commission’s recommendation last year that all harvesters be paid minimum wage by June 1, 2019. However, he also said too little was known about the existing system, created in 1981 with different rates for 15 commodities.
A study commissioned last fall to examine the existing piece rate system and point a way forward remains a topic of discussion with the BC Ministry of Agriculture, and no decision has been taken on next steps.
Many farm groups fear changing the piece rate system would further compress farmers’ margins, which have already been squeezed by higher costs for everything from land to shipping and materials such as cardboard and horticultural supplies. New regulations and pests combined with the loss of pest control products have exacerbated the frustration.
However, the agriculture ministry said last year that “piece-rate farm workers deserve a raise like other minimum wage earners.”
BC’s minimum piece rates increased 11.5% as of January 1, following a similar increase in the hourly minimum wage last June to $12.65. The minimum wage will rise a further 9.5% in June to $13.85 an hour, but piece rates won’t follow suit – for now.
“Government is taking a more in-depth look at how to ensure compensation for farm workers is both fair for workers and sustainable for farm operators,” labour ministry staff said in February.
[FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF CORAL BEACH FARMS]
Vol. 105 Issue 4
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
One province, one panel
Groundwater deadline extended
Happy as a pig!
Sidebar: Still waiting
Feds pour millions into tree fruit research
Sidebar: Will local procurement help?>
Editorial: Confined spaces
Back Forty: BC farmers need more than a land bank
Island Good campaign drives local sales
Poultry industry seeks to stop infighting
Egg farmers to receive biggest quota boost ever
New entrant focus
Decision day looms for chicken pricing appeal
Producers look to CanadaGAP for certification
Organic sector undertakes core review
Hopping to it!
Island couple named Outstanding Young Farmers
Turkey consumption continues to decline
BC potato growers enjoy a strong footing
Sudden tree fruit dieback a growing concern
Late season BC cherries in global demand
Farmers’ markets aim to be local food hubs
Field trial hopes to reduce phosphorus levels
Future looking bright for BC dairy producers
BC could benefit from US trade battles
Saputo puts its Courtenay plant out to pasture
The land of milk and salmon
Sidebar: Farming for the future
Out of the hands of BC farmers
Codes of practice need producer input
Preparation essential for wildfire response
Sidebar: Relief announced for drought, fire
Sidebar: Be FireSmart with these tips
New traceability regs to track movement
Agriculture a notable threat to species at risk
Improper pesticide use threatens access
Threat to neonics spurs scare in spud growers
Orchard presses forward with diversification
Staying on top of soil health is key to sound farming
No small potatoes
Farm families need to have affairs in order
Rotary parlours go upscale at two FV dairies
Study compares organic, conventional diets
Advisory service foresees growing demand
Sidebar: Tree fruit cutbacks a concern
Island dairy producers hone first aid skills
Woodshed: And that’s how rumours get their teeth
Research farm showcases small projects
Jude’s Kitchen: Shooting stars of spring