Quebec raises minimum wage to $12, says 60% of women to benefit from hike
The minimum wage in Quebec will increase to $12 per hour on May 1, the provincial labour minister announced Wednesday.
It is an increase of 75 cents per hour.
It is the most significant increase in the minimum wage in Quebec’s history, Labour Minister Dominique Vien said in a statement.
“The good economic performance of Quebec allows us to substantially increase the minimum wage,” Vien said. “This increase will improve the quality of life for low income workers, as well as provide stronger incentives to work, increase net disposable income and contribute to reducing the incidence of poverty, without harming jobs or the competitiveness of our businesses.”
The government says the wage increase will result in an annual increase in revenue — depending on the number of hours worked and the size of a household — between $462 and $979.
The minimum wage for workers who make tips will rise to $9.80 an hour, an increase of 35 cents per hour.
The increase is part of a plan to raise the minimum wage to the equivalent of 50 per cent of the average wage in Quebec by 2020. According to the provincial government, the average wage in the province will be $24.25 this year. However, according to Statistics Canada, the average hourly wage in Quebec was $25.28 in December.
The government says the increase will directly affect 352,900 workers, more than 60 per cent of whom are women.
For employers, the impact of the increase will vary depending on the business, said Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president of the Conseil du patronat.
“There are employers who will be impacted because it represents a high increase, it’s more than six per cent,” he said. “If your salary costs are increasing, if you’re in a company that has low margins, if most of your costs are salaries, it’s clear that this will impact you.”
His group, which represents employers, has accepted the government’s commitment to bring the minimum wage to 50 per cent of the average salary, he said.
Still, he said, the Conseil would like to see the government take steps to reduce the impact on businesses, particularly since the employer’s share of provincial pension plan contributions is also rising.
One way to do that, he said, would be to reduce the payroll tax.
“We continue to put on the shoulders of employers more regulations and more costs,” Dorval said.
Restaurants will be particularly affected, said Martin Vézina, a spokesperson for the Association des restaurateurs du Québec.
Adding to that, the cost of food and municipal taxes are also rising, he said.
“With all these increases adding up, it will be tougher and tougher for restaurant owners to be in business,” Vézina said.
While he said he doesn’t expect restaurants to lay off workers, “some will increase prices, some will limit shifts for their part-time employees.”
But the Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté says the increase doesn’t go far enough.
“We welcome the increase of 75 cents,” said Virginie Larivière, a spokesperson for the group, “but it’s not sufficient.”
While it will allow the poorest workers to improve their living conditions, she said the government should go further.
“Every improvement in revenue for the poorest workers is a good step in the right direction,” she said. “Will this truly change the realities of poor workers who have to use food banks? I’m not convinced.”
Her group is calling for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour as quickly as possible.
She said that would allow people who work full-time, year-round, to get out of poverty.
Larivière said she doesn’t believe workers will see their hours reduced or lose their jobs as a result of the increase.
She points to a 2011 study by the Institut de la statistique du Québec that looked at the effect of minimum wage increases between 2005 and 2010, a period that included three consecutive annual increases of 50 cents, and found no correlation between those increases and the number of hours worked by minimum wage workers.
The increase comes at a time when Quebec has a low unemployment rate, and wages are rising on their own, said Fabian Lange, a McGill professor who specializes in labour economics.
He doesn’t expect the increase and the subsequent increases to bring the minimum wage to 50 per cent of the average salary to have a large impact.
“The changes are all going to pretty moderate, so they’re probably going to help people who hold minimum wage jobs moderately, assuming that they’re able to hold on to those jobs, and there’s probably going to be a somewhat negative effect on the number of those jobs created,” he said. “A very large minimum wage increase, on the order of what Ontario did, would probably have substantial negative impacts on employment in Quebec.”
After the increase, Quebec will have the third-highest minimum wage in Canada, after Ontario and Alberta.