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Quebec’s minimum wage climbs to $12 per hour as of May 1

Quebec minimum wage workers will earn $12 per hour as of May 1.
Quebec minimum wage workers will earn $12 per hour as of May 1. Global News File

Quebec’s minimum wage will officially be going up to $12 an hour as of May 1.

The raise of 75 cents — from $11.25 — marks the largest salary increase in the province’s history.

READ MORE: Independent businesses, lobby groups express concern over Quebec’s minimum wage hike

The Quebec government announced the salary bump in January, saying it will increase quality of life and boost disposable income for low-income workers.

The increase is expected to bring in about $979 per year in additional income, depending on hours worked and family situation.

READ MORE: Average hourly wages in Canada have barely budged in 40 years

Moshe Lander, a professor with the department of economics at Concordia University, explained Quebecers who earn minimum wage will see more money, but the move could bring unintended consequences over the years.

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“As you keep jacking up this minimum wage, it might short-term benefit these workers, but the long-term is going to be a lot more painful,”  he said.

Quebec labour federations and unions have long been asking for a $15 minimum wage.
Quebec labour federations and unions have long been asking for a $15 minimum wage. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

In Ontario, increasing minimum wage to $14 per hour in January prompted some employers to use cost-cutting measures, such as eliminating paid breaks or cutting employee benefits to offset costs.

Raising minimum wage will force businesses to adapt and absorb the costs — whether it’s through raising prices for consumers or scaling back on hiring, according to Lander.

READ MORE: Quebecers call for change at International Workers’ Day march

The move means businesses could look at renegotiating contracts and replacing workers down the line, he added.

“The short-term impact is very muted because businesses don’t have that instantaneous flexibility,” said Lander.

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“But the more time they have to adjust, the more they are going to start to look for ways to get around paying the higher minimum wage.”

When the increase was announced in January, groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) and the Conseil du patronant du Québec (CPQ) expressed concern over the hike.

They argued small businesses will struggle to absorb the costs and face increased pressure to maintain pay equity among employees.

WATCH BELOW: Quebecers rally for $15 minimum wage

Quebecers rally for $15 minimum wage
Quebecers rally for $15 minimum wage

The decision to raise minimum wage has also been criticized by various labour federations across the province, with some arguing $12 per hour isn’t enough to cover cost of living and help low-income Quebecers climb out of poverty.

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With International Workers’ Day on May 1, union leaders who gathered to march this weekend argued Quebecers deserve a fair and decent minimum wage in order to make ends meet.

READ MORE: Striking Quebec construction workers march for family time

“We are walking today for the $15 an hour, it is very important for the workers to get this minimum wage,” said Christian Daigle, president of the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ).

with files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press.