$14.25/hr | Mixed reactions to the minimum wage increase

Raising Quebec’s minimum wage to $14.25 an hour from this Sunday, May 1st, a 75 cent increase in the hourly rate.

Posted at 7:52

The increase in the universal minimum wage rate will benefit 301,100 people in Quebec, according to the Department of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity.

For tipped employees, the minimum wage increases to $11.40 an hour, a 60 cent increase.

Also note that the minimum wage for an employee engaged solely in picking raspberries or strawberries is $4.23 (+$0.22) and $1.13 (+$0.06) per kilogram, respectively , according to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity.

A significant increase that hurts the middle class

Employers point out that this 5.56% increase in the minimum wage means an additional cost of US$237.1 million for companies, which worries the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which notes that these new increase is related to the fragility of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by rising costs.

The two years of health restrictions have left an average debt of $108,000 per Quebec SME and below-average income for the majority of them.

François Vincent, Vice President for Quebec at the CFIB

“The reality is that their ability to absorb increases in costs is not infinite,” said François Vincent, vice president for Quebec at the CFIB, in a press release.

Up to 60% of SMEs believe rising costs are having a significant negative impact on their business, said the SME grouping, which has 95,000 members across sectors and regions.

According to Mr Vincent, “This will have a definite impact on entrepreneurs, who will have no choice but to raise prices”.

The CFIB believes that there are other solutions in the Québec government to help employers offer better salary terms to their workers, notably by offering tax credits to SMEs or reducing taxes on payroll.

Workers getting poorer

However, the discourse is quite different on the side of the Collective for a Quebec Without Poverty, which states that this 75-cent-per-hour increase in the minimum wage is “irresponsible and offensive to the hundreds of thousands of workers who live in poverty and who each lose a little more purchasing power every day”.

“With its ridiculous increase in the minimum wage, the government not only refuses to lift these people out of poverty, but doesn’t bat an eyelid at them as they become impoverished,” says collective spokeswoman Virginie Larivière.

She points out that this increase in the minimum wage doesn’t even offset the impact of the consumer price index (CPI), which rose 6.7% in Quebec from March 2021 to March 2022, “unheard of in the last 30 years.”

“Last November, Quebec’s food banks reminded us that the number of people on income using their services has increased by 40% due to the pandemic and high inflation. Everything indicates that the trend will not reverse … and the government is washing its hands! ‘ she denounced.

Since last fall, the Collective for a Quebec Without Poverty, which includes 36 organizations, has been demanding a minimum wage of at least $18 an hour.

Insufficient minimum wage, denounces Québec solidaire

Quebec Solidaire’s labor leader, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve MP Alexandre Leduc, also laments the Legault government’s completely outdated vision of progress on Quebec’s minimum wage.

“Every week I meet companies that advertise with starting salaries above the minimum wage. These companies have understood something the government still doesn’t understand: A sustainable minimum wage is a remedy for recruitment difficulty because it makes minimum-wage positions more attractive,” explained Mr. Leduc.

A month ago, Labor Secretary Jean Boulet hinted that the minimum wage could top $15 an hour in 2023.

According to the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve member, this long-demanded symbolic amount is no longer relevant.

“Frankly! $15 was needed five years ago, no living wage today. We’ve been talking about the cost-of-living crisis for months. Does Mr. Boulet think people on minimum wage are immune to the rise in all basic goods? I have the misfortune to tell him that this is not the case and that today a decent and sustainable minimum wage is $18 an hour,” MNA Alexandre Leduc reiterated.

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