The Quebec government is raising the minimum wage to $11.25 per hour, up 50 cents from $10.75.

Labour Minister Dominique Vien made the announcement Thursday morning at the National Assembly.

The 50-cent increase will affect some 350,000 workers this year and is the biggest single-year increase since 2010. It will be implemented on May 1.

The wage is expected to keep climbing over the next few years as follows:

  • 2017: $11.25 (+50 cents)
  • 2018: $11.75 (+50 cents)
  • 2019: $12.10 (+35 cents)
  • 2020: $12.45 (+35 cents)

While Quebec Solidaire and other groups were asking for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, Vien said that increase in one shot - a 40 per cent spike - would have been 'catastrophic' for small and medium-sized business.

"It's time to give to people at the base of the pyramid to have the possibility to live in dignity," said QS MNA Manon Massé.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao instead favoured a step-by-step approach.

“We always said in the government that $15 an hour is an arbitrary figure. The link has to be made between the minimum wage and the average wage, and what we are saying today is that over a four-year period, we intend to go towards 50 per cent (of the average wage). We are now around 47 per cent. Our minimum wage is about 47 per cent of the average wage,” he said.

Restaurant owner Stephane Rheaume said a minimum wage increase will affect his customers.

"A small place like us, and everywhere else, prices will go up," said Rheaume."We have these small margins, really small margins. We're a small business and if we put out more, we have to take out more."