Quebec's hourly minimum wage to go up by 50 cents on May 1

Quebec's minimum wage will climb by 50 cents to $12.50 an hour on May 1 — bringing the rate for 288,000 workers to half the hourly average in the province for the first time in history, the labour minister says.

Labour minister says it's 1st time in Quebec history that minimum wage is half provincial hourly average

Raising Quebec's minimum wage will help the economy, the labour minister says. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec's minimum wage will climb to $12.50 an hour on May 1 — increasing the hourly wage of some 288,000 workers by 50 cents, provincial Labour Minister Jean Boulet announced Wednesday.

In this way, the government contributes to "increasing the purchasing power of the most vulnerable workers" without reducing employment numbers or taking away from the competitiveness of companies, Boulet said in a statement.

The hourly wage increase will provide a boost to the province's economy, provide an incentive for low-wage earners to work and help reduce poverty, according to the ministry.

In 2018, the average hourly wage in the province was $24.92. With the minimum wage increasing to $12.50 per hour, it will reach 50 per cent of the average hourly wage for the first time in provincial history, Boulet told reporters on Wednesday. 

He said the government plans to continue to hit that target.

The Coalition Avenir Québec made a campaign promise to gradually raise the minimum wage year by year, he said, and it is now working toward a minimum hourly wage of $15.

Raising the minimum gradually gives businesses time to adjust, he said.

"This is a good compromise that will grow Quebec's economy," he said. "We will get to $15, but we are doing it in a progressive way."

Labour Minister Jean Boulet says the Legault government will keep its campaign promise to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Radio-Canada)

The wage increase represents an annual increase in disposable income of between $400 and $650, depending on the number of hours worked and the family situation of the employee, the ministry said in its announcement.

For people in the food industry who receive tips, minimum wage will rise by 25 cents, to $10.05 an hour.

Raspberry pickers' pay will increase to $3.71 (up 15 cents) per kilogram and strawberry pickers' pay will rise to 99 cents (up 4 cents) per kilogram.