Quebec minimum wage rises to $13.50, but some employees and employers both unsatisfied

Quebec's minimum wage rose to $13.50 an hour as of Saturday, but few in the province seem happy with the change.

The $0.40 increase has left minimum wage workers frustrated, saying it wasn't enough. Maxime Dmitrienko, a worker at NDG grocery store Esposito's, said the change won't change his situation.

“It doesn't reflect the cost of actual living wage, especially with the cost of prices for housing and rent in big cities like Montreal and Toronto,” he said. “It doesn't reflect a living wage.”

Dmitrienko said he fears the store's prices could rise to cover the wage increase, a worry echoed by his boss.

“I don't think people really benefit in the long-term because, as everyone knows, the costs are always passed on to the consumers, especially for small businesses,” said Tony Esposito.

Esposito said he is trying to absorb the cost of the wage hike without raising prices, for now.

He noted that the increase don't just impact his employees who make minimum wage.

“The person that's been working for a year or two or three has to be increased as well, because it's not fair if someone walks through the door and gets a job and starts making the same as someone who's been there for two or three years.”

Shalina Davis has been working at the store through the pandemic and said the increase is a welcome one.

“I feel like with everything going on, we've been working so hard. It's a good thing that we're getting a bit more than what we're getting right now, especially with having to deal with customers and COVID,” she said.

The Quebec government announced the wage raise on Friday, calling it a way to ensure fair compensation without harming employment or the competitiveness of businesses. But the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses disagreed with that assessment. Spokesperson Francois Vincent said small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are struggling, and the government should have introduced tax breaks along with the increase.

“Sixty-eight per cent of SMEs in Quebec are below normal sales,” he said. “We have one-third of

of SMEs worried about their cash flow. It's not going well for SMEs and the economy.”

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