Quebec minimum wage to go up to $11.25

Quebec's minimum wage will go up by 50 cents in May. It will be the first of several increases to bring minimum wage up to $12.45 per hour by 2020.

Increase will be 1st of 4 annual wage increases, says Labour Minister Dominique Vien

The increase will be the first of several to bring minimum wage up to $12.45 per hour by 2020. (CBC)

Quebec's minimum wage workers will see a slightly bigger paycheque starting this spring, but that may not be enough, according to some labour unions. 

The minimum wage will go up by 50 cents on May 1, 2017, bringing the total to $11.25 per hour.

Labour Minister Dominique Vien said Thursday it will be the first of four annual wage increases, which will bring minimum wage up to $12.45 per hour by 2020.

She said the province carefully considered the increases with the goal of "establishing a balance between fair wages for workers and the capacity of Quebec business to pay those salaries." 

According to Vien, the following are the wage increases the province intents to put in place over the coming years: 

  • 2018: 50 cents.
  • 2019: 35 cents.
  • 2020: 35 cents. 

She added that, depending on the economic situation of the province, the increases may change. 

Approximately 350,600 Quebecers making minimum wage will benefit from the increase.

Vien said that, depending on the hours worked, the wage increase will bring workers an additional $254 to $655 to their annual net income. 

"It's fundamental that working for minimum wage is always more profitable than social assistance," said Viens, who believes the wage increase will help Quebecers rely less on aid programs. 

Workers who make minimum wage with tips will also see a 25 cent salary increase, bringing the total to $9.45 per hour. Vien said the government also intends to increase their salaries up until 2020. 

Thousands of protesters marched in Montreal this past fall calling on the government to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

No $15 per hour minimum wage in sight 

In the fall, labour unions and community groups launched a campaign that called on the province to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Both the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire have also spoken up in favour of the idea.

Vien said it's not realistic.

"We were clear and we were frank, we cannot increase the minimum wage by 40 per cent in one shot," said Vien. 

"If we would have done that, it would have been a catastrophic action. We've spoken with employers and labour groups, and I think they understand that." 

Louise Chabot, president of the CSQ, a labour federation which has been lobbying for a $15 per hour minimum wage, called the announcement "extremely disappointing." 

"It doesn't make sense that in Quebec right now we have people living below the poverty line," she said. 

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao, centre, said the province consulted employers before moving forward with the wage increase. (Radio-Canada)

'Significant impact on small businesses' 

The planned wage increases have some small business owners concerned.

"It will have a significant impact on small businesses across Quebec," said Simon Gaudreault, director of economic affairs for Canadian Federation of Independent Business. 

Gaudreault said small businesses will need some financial help to be able to cope with the increases. 

He believes that employers will have to increase wages for all their workers, since non-minimum wage employees will know their colleagues received a raise.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said the province is already providing financial aid to small businesses and will continue to do so. He added that the assistance can be used to pay for things like payroll taxes. 

The decision to increase the minimum wage was made in consultation with labour and business groups, he said.

"We came to the conclusion that our path [with the increases] is sustainable and is within the capacity of businesses," said Leitao.

The Quebec Employers Council said it welcomes, in part, the wage increase since low-income Quebecers will benefit. However, the council said it's concerned about the impact the increase will have on businesses with small profit margins. 


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