Little pressure on Quebec

The Government of Canada on Friday recalled an April budget measure that called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which will drop to $ 15 an hour on December 29. Little pressure on Quebec. This minimum wage affects workers in the federally regulated private sector and sets a floor. For those working in provinces or territories where this salary is higher, the latter will apply. Conversely, $ 15 an hour will prevail. It will subsequently increase each year on 1is April, in line with the evolution of the Consumer Price Index.

The Government of Canada estimates that 26,000 federally regulated private sector employees earn less than $ 15 an hour and will benefit from the new rate. Most of them work in Ontario and Quebec. According to estimates, 59% of them are men and 41% women, according to the text of The Canadian Press. Overall, there are some 287,000 people working for minimum wage in Quebec, 57% being women.

Previously, the minimum wage applicable to these employees of organizations under federal jurisdiction was, with some exceptions, that of the province where the employee usually performs his duties. “This meant that many federally regulated employers could have employees who held the same position while being paid differently, depending on their province of employment,” explained the law firm BLG.

Ottawa clarified that the establishment of this independent federal minimum wage was recommended by the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labor Standards in 2019. The federally regulated private sector includes certain industries such as: interprovincial and international transportation, telecommunications, banking, uranium mining, most crown corporations, the grain industry, and native band councils.

In Canada, only Alberta ($ 15) and British Columbia ($ 15.20) apply such a minimum wage. Ontario will be added to that list, having recently announced a hike to $ 15 that will take effect in January. This rate is 11% higher than the general rate of $ 13.50 per hour in Quebec. Elsewhere, the rate ranges from $ 11.81 in Saskatchewan to $ 13.70 in Prince Edward Island.

Last October, the Legault government rejected out of hand a proposal by the chairman of the board of directors of Cogeco, Louis Audet, which suggested increasing the minimum wage to $ 20 an hour in the name of social justice and reducing income disparities. This would result in a “significant economic shock”, replied the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet. “We have to go gradually,” he added, while suggesting a “significant increase” in the minimum wage next May, especially under the pressure on wages imposed by the shortage of labor. work. The Minister recalled the calculation mechanism adopted by Quebec: the minimum wage must be 50% of the average hourly rate, and it would be around $ 26-27 in the province.

The median hourly wage in Quebec was up 3.2% year-on-year in November, to $ 26.04, Desjardins Group economists said. And on the broader basis of compensation, data from the Institut de la statistique du Québec indicates that average hourly compensation stood at $ 30.24 in Ontario in 2020, 6% more than the $ 28.20 measured in Quebec. Beyond the figure retained, in this comparison game, the Institut du Québec has already recalled that although there are as many employees whose salary varies between $ 26 / h and $ 40 / h in Quebec as in Ontario, the observed differences are mostly at the ends of the distribution. Thus, Quebec has proportionally more employees whose hourly wages are between $ 12 and $ 26 and less whose hourly wages exceed $ 40. He added that the pay gap was particularly marked in the finance, insurance and real estate services sector as well as in professional, scientific and technical services. In addition, we note that a comparison on the basis of the disposable income of workers at the minimum wage, after subtracting the tax paid and taking into account the credits and benefits received, becomes more appropriate. And this, without forgetting the cost of living.

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