Quebec's Minimum Wage Is Going Up In May But It Might Not Be Enough To Live In The Province

"$15 an hour, we were asking for that in 2016!"

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
​Canadian bills and coins.

Canadian bills and coins.

The minimum wage in Quebec is going up by one dollar. As of May 1, the lowest-paid workers in the province will make at least $15.25 an hour.

That means around $2,000 more annual pay for minimum wage workers who are on the clock for 40 hours a week. The move also impacts employees who receive tips, boosting their base pay by 80 cents, up to $12.20.

The move, announced by Labour Minister Jean Boulet on January 18, will apply to 298,900 employees across the province.

Last December, Premier François Legault responded to a Québec Solidaire proposal to raise the minimum wage to $18 per hour, saying it would be akin to performing "magic."

He claimed a higher minimum wage would make it difficult for some businesses to pay workers more and still stay afloat. Legault explained that the CAQ government adjusts the minimum wage to approximately 50% of the province's average wage.

"We needed $15 five years ago, it's not a viable wage today," Québec Solidaire MNA Alexandre Leduc wrote in a statement last May when low-wage earners got a 75-cent boost to $14.25/hour.

Studies by Montreal's Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS), dating back to 2020, indicate that "earning $15 an hour full time is still far from a sustainable income in many Quebec cities."

The most recent 2022 IRIS report shows one in five Quebecers lives "below the viable income threshold." The Institute concluded that a living wage — the minimum income needed for a person to meet their basic needs and live with dignity — is at least $18/hour in the current economy.

Since then, inflation skyrocketed further, driving living costs up and pushing many Quebecers to extreme money-saving tactics.

"A minimum wage of $15 an hour, we were asking for that in 2016!" Leduc tweeted on Wednesday, in response to the government's minimum wage announcement.

"In 2023, with inflation hitting hard, it's $18 per hour minimum needed to live with dignity in Quebec," he said.


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Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an Associate Editor for MTL Blog focused on gas prices in Montreal and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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