(Quebec) The increase in the minimum wage to $ 13.50 an hour from Saturday in Quebec has made many unions say the measure is clearly insufficient to lift people out of poverty. On the one hand, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) believes that this is an “extra burden on the shoulders” of small and medium-sized businesses still severely suffering from the third wave of COVID-19.
The Quebec government confirmed that the general minimum wage rate will increase to $ 13.50 an hour starting Saturday, which is an increase of 40 cents.
This increase of 3.1% will make it possible to reach, for the period 2021-2022, the target of 50% between the general minimum wage rate and the average hourly wage.
The Quebec government hinted at such an increase in the hourly minimum wage last December.
The Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Bouet, believes that increasing the general minimum wage rate makes it possible to guarantee a fair wage, without harming employment or the competitiveness of companies. In his view, this increase contributes to reducing wage inequality by increasing the purchasing power of the employees concerned, that is, 287,000 people in Quebec, including 164,700 women.
On the other hand, as of Saturday, the minimum wage payable to tip-off employees will be $ 10.80 an hour, up 35 cents. Other groups of agricultural workers will also benefit from the increases.
When would you be $ 15 an hour … or more?
This increase in the minimum wage is “still too little” for workers at the bottom of the scale, says the Federation of Quebec Workers (FTQ).
“Who can hope to live in dignity with a salary of $ 13.50 an hour as the government just announced?” With this salary, it is impossible to pay rent, electricity or groceries and have a minimum of basic goods. If Mister Bollet truly thinks this is plausible, I challenge him and his colleagues to live quietly on that salary! FTQ President Daniel Boyer said Friday in a press release.
FTQ has launched a massive minimum wage campaign of $ 15 for 1he is May 2016. Going forward, the trade union organization says it is busy updating this demand “so that it corresponds to today’s reality, while workers face significant increases in the cost of life and rents across the province, at unprecedented levels.”
The 5-10-15 Campaign Coalition argues that the Quebec government is still lagging behind as the federal government announced in its budget this month its intention to set a federal minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
The coalition, which is made up of five unions (CSD, CSN, CSQ, SFPQ and SPGQ), the Non-Union Members Defense Front and Rally Quebec Without Poverty, speaks of a “ridiculous 40 cents increase” in the minimum wage.
A 5-10-15 campaign spokeswoman, Virginie Lariviere, thinks this is an increase that “is clearly insufficient to allow people out of poverty”.
These groups argue that the government has praised low-wage workers such as guards, maintenance staff, and grocery clerks. However, temporary bonuses at the height of the health crisis cannot replace “a regular salary that allows you to live in dignity, with a salary of at least $ 15 an hour,” the coalition says.
An additional burden on small and medium-sized businesses
In contrast, the Canadian Confederation of Independent Business (CFIB) believes this represents an “additional burden on small and medium-sized businesses”.
The CFIB is concerned about increasing the minimum wage, says the third wave of COVID-19 is still hitting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and only 32% of them have returned to “normal income”.
It is clear that it is essential to support the low-income brackets, especially in times of crisis. But increasing the minimum wage will also have negative effects on small and medium-sized businesses, ”says CFIB Vice President of Quebec, Francois Vincent.
“The government could favor other measures to combat poverty, such as increasing the basic personal sum, work bonuses, or even targeted tax breaks for workers,” says Vincent.