Minimum wage is going up to $13.50, but advocates are calling for $15 an hour
A grocery store worker wears a protective face mask and gloves uses a spray bottle to clean the work space and plexiglass divider. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
QUEBEC -- A coalition of 215 community groups are demanding the Legault government increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“It’s a question of social justice, a question of dignity,” said Marc-Edouard Joubert, president of the Federation of Workers of Quebec.
The provincial minimum wage is currently $13.10 per hour. Compared to the other provinces and territories, Quebec sits in seventh place.
Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in the country, at $16 per hour. Following that are Alberta ($15), BC ($14.60), Ontario ($14.25), Yukon ($13.71), and the Northwest Territories (1$3.46).
In a joint statement, the groups criticized the Legault government, saying many essential workers rely on food banks because they can’t afford the cost of food.
In the statement, they highlighted that a person earning minimum wage who worked 37.5 hours per week during the first wave earned less than someone who collected the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
“Even the federal government, the rate they announced to support workers, it was over $15,” said Cheolki Yoon, an organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre.
“It’s the minimum of the minimum.”
PROVINCE TO INCREASE WAGES IN 2021
On Wednesday, the province announced its plans to increase the minimum wage by 40 cents to $13.50 per hour.
These changes will come into effect on May 1, 2021, one year after Quebec increased wages to $13.10.
For workers who collect tips, the minimum wage will be $10.80 per hour.
“Considering the current context of the crisis caused by COVID-19, it is important to change the minimum wage in a balanced and reasonable manner,” said Labour Minister Jean Boulet in a press release announcing the increase.
“As you know, the health crisis has brought its share of challenges for both employees and employers.”
According to Yoon, it’s not enough.
“Our neighbour in Ontario has raised wages more substantially,” he said.
“This is not enough for a decent life.”