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Whistler Blackcomb announces minimum wage hike for 2022-23 season

Entry-level Vail Resorts staff will see hourly pay rise to at least $20 per hour next winter
Whistler Blackcomb opening day groomer  by Fitzpatrick_Christie_July5202111-06357
A groomer works to prepare terrain on Whistler Mountain ahead of opening day on Nov. 25, 2021.

B.C.'s minimum wage is on the rise, the province's labour minister announced Monday, but Whistler Blackcomb employees are in store for an even bigger boost next winter. 

The resort's parent company plans to hike the minimum wage across all of its 37 North American properties, Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch announced on March 14. Effective for the 2022-23 ski and snowboard season, pay for entry-level Whistler Blackcomb staff will be set at $20 CAD per hour, representing a 24-per-cent increase from this year's hourly wage. Currently, entry-level staff at Whistler Blackcomb make at least $15.20 per hour, in line with B.C.'s current minimum wage. 

Entry-level ski patrollers and maintenance team members, meanwhile, will start at $21 CAD per hour next winter.

Hourly staff at Vail Resorts' American resorts will also see their wages rise to a minimum of $20 USD. This includes a guaranteed minimum of $20 per hour for tipped roles across the corporation.

In a release, a spokesperson for Vail Resorts said the company also plans to increase salaries for non-entry-level hourly employees in an effort "to ensure career and leadership wage differentials."

The wage increases are one part of an incremental $175 million USD annual investment in employees Vail Resorts announced on March 14. Additionally, the company plans to offer its staff a new "Seasonal Frontline Leadership Development" program, as well as a 40-per-cent employee discount at all of Vail Resorts' retail locations beginning next winter, while a $4-million investment into the company's human resources department will add 66 positions to its People Connect and Payroll teams—representing an almost 50-per-cent increase in the number of central HR Services staff. Meanwhile, the company is providing a new flexible remote work option for its corporate office staff and doubling its year-end merit increases for salaried employees from three per cent to six per cent. 

Monday's announcement also included a renewed commitment to affordable housing in its mountain communities, Lynch wrote in a letter to employees on Monday. Though this aspect of the announcement lacked measurable targets, Lynch said Vail Resorts plans to "aggressively pursue building new affordable housing on the land we own, and pursue company leases in existing affordable housing developments."

In Whistler, that could mean construction will finally get underway on a new 240-bed staff housing building, a rezoning for which received third reading in Jan. 2020, but has yet to come back for consideration of adoption.

The announcement marks one of the biggest initiatives Lynch has declared since taking the reins as Vail Resorts CEO on Nov. 1, 2021. 

"One of my biggest takeaways from these past 100 days is the importance of each of you—our team," she wrote in the letter to staff. "We have a mission that we all know and love: Experience of a Lifetime. You are the core of this mission. We cannot create an Experience of a Lifetime for our guests without first creating an Experience of a Lifetime for you—unfortunately, we have fallen short on that."

Vail Resorts "employees’ passion is what makes our resorts so special and our guests’ experience memorable,” Lynch added in the release.

The nine-figure annual investment into Vail Resorts' employee experience "marks a new direction for our company," she said. "Combined with an over $300 million investment in 21 new lifts for next season, we will work to ensure our resorts deliver an Experience of a Lifetime for both our employees and our guests.” 

 

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