50 cent raise on minimum wage

Still pays less than poverty line

Quebec’s minimum wage increased by 50 cents on May 1, as the province’s 320,000 lowest paid workers will now make $9.50 an hour.

Despite rising at nearly three times the rate of inflation since the wage was set at $7.30 an hour in 2003, a 40-hour work week at the new minimum wage would still pay less than Canada’s poverty line. Quebec’s minimum wage is now the third highest in Canada.

“Students aren’t too excited by the increase,” said Jonathan Elston, the coordinator for the Concordia Student Union’s Off-Campus Housing and Job Bank. “They get excited with the possibility of a job that pays $16 an hour, but when they are working five hours a week at $10 an hour, that’s $50.”

“What can you do with $50?”

Quebecers would need to earn at least $11.09 an hour to earn a living wage above the poverty line, according to Statistics Canada. Despite not earning a living wage, a worker being paid the minimum wage in Quebec would still pay 28.53 per cent income tax.

British Columbia, the province with the highest cost of living in Canada, pays the lowest minimum wage. A worker in British Columbia is only paid $6 an hour for their first 500 hours of work, after which they earn $8 an hour. Ontario currently pays the highest minimum wage at $10.25 an hour.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 1, published June 11, 2010.