Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire want to boost minimum wage to $15 per hour

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-Francois Lisée, right, speaks at a news conference Monday, September 3, 2018 in Matane Que. Candidates Megane Perry-Melancon, left and Pascal Berubé, centre, look on. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire are courting workers on Labour Day, each promising to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour if elected to form the next provincial government.

Jean-François Lisée, the head of the PQ, told the crowd in Matane on Monday he would gradually boost minimum wage from $12 to $15 in his first mandate.

READ MORE: Which party deserves the title of most ‘progressive’ in Quebec politics?

The left-leaning party also said it would stand up for Quebec’s 250,000 non-unionized workers, whom the PQ claims are being cheated out of $350 million in salary from unpaid overtime and leave.

“It has bothered me for several years,” said Lisée.

When asked if the PQ was trying to court the province’s working class due to recent electoral setbacks, Lisée said the party was always invested in workers’ right — even if it seemed like the issue wasn’t a priority when Quebecor media baron Pierre-Karl Péladeau was leader.

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Péladeau, who was leader of the PQ for less than a year until he stepped down in 2016, presided over lengthy labour disputes with two newspapers in his chain.

“It might have been harder to see with the last leader, but the party itself, the members themselves, our closeness towards those who work hard has always been there,” said Lisée. “And perhaps it’s more apparent now.”

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

Québec Solidaire also took advantage of Labour Day to reiterate its commitment toward raising minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The left-leaning party, however, has promised it would do so even more quickly than the PQ — and boost minimum wage workers’ salaries by May 2019.

WATCH: Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois joins Global’s Laura Casella to talk about Québec Solidaire’s priorities in the upcoming election.

Click to play video 'Decision Quebec: Quebec Solidaire’s election priorities' Decision Quebec: Quebec Solidaire’s election priorities
Decision Quebec: Quebec Solidaire’s election priorities – Aug 27, 2018

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson of Québec Solidaire, named Ontario as a positive example of raising minimum wage despite concerns from business leaders and employers.

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“The economic catastrophe that some predicted did not happen,” he said on Twitter.

Under the plan, Québec Solidaire would also invest $100 million in small and medium-sized businesses to help absorb the costs.

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

Setting sights on the regions

Quebec Liberal Party Leader Philippe Couillard focused on connecting the province’s regions by promising Quebecers would have access to high-speed internet services by 2020.

The incumbent premier, who is seeking to be re-elected for a second mandate, said he would invest $500 million to do so while at a campaign stop in Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Aside from expanding digital infrastructure, Couillard said he would also appoint a minister of regions, who would oversee such projects.

The move would also attract and retain families and businesses in the province’s regions and remote areas, he added.

READ MORE: Quebec unveils plan to deal with growing labour shortage

— With files from the Canadian Press