Study | Fewer minimum wage workers than elsewhere in the country

Study | Fewer minimum wage workers than elsewhere in the country
Study | Fewer minimum wage workers than elsewhere in the country

Quebec is the Canadian province with the fewest workers earning minimum wage. Statistically, we are also able to meet our needs with this salary in general better than elsewhere in the country, underlines an analysis presented Tuesday, the day before the increase in the minimum wage, which goes from $15.25 to $15.75 on 1er May in Quebec.


Posted at 1:02 a.m.

Updated at 7:00 a.m.

Fewer minimum wage workers…

Quebec is also a society that stands out in Canada when it comes to minimum wages and its scope, concluded Professor Luc Godbout, who presented at noon on Tuesday the results of an analysis by the Research Chair in Taxation and public finances of the University of Sherbrooke, which he directs.

First distinction, and not the least: it is in Quebec that we find the lowest proportion of workers receiving the minimum wage, with 4.4% in 2023, a proportion which is decreasing.

“This is by far the lowest proportion for all the provinces,” notes Suzie St-Cerny, researcher at the Chair. Saskatchewan is at 5.4% and British Columbia is at 5.6%. Otherwise, we are more between 7% and 8% of all employees in the other provinces. »

Even if we add workers who have slightly higher incomes, equivalent to 125% of the minimum wage, Quebec remains among the provinces with the smallest share of employees with these incomes, overall. The researcher partly attributes this state of affairs to the tightening of the labor market.

The chair of the University of Sherbrooke publishes its study each year which makes it possible to compare the scope of the minimum wage, and its fluctuations, in Canada. “If we go back 10 or 15 years ago, we were not, in Quebec, the place where this proportion was the lowest,” explains Suzie St-Cerny.

And those who earn minimum wage do better

To make a comparison between provinces, researchers use the basic consumption basket measure calculated by Statistics Canada (food, housing, transportation and other current expenses) which makes it possible to assess the possibility of obtaining essential goods. They come to the conclusion that it is in Quebec that the minimum wage best ensures the coverage of these needs.

To carry out its analysis, the Chair observed the situations of eight typical cases: people alone or in couples, parents or not, working full-time or part-time.

An example: a person heading a single-parent family in Quebec will have a disposable income of $39,700 this year, which gives them a score of 114% for this coverage, the highest in the country.

“It is this $40,000 which must be used to calculate whether or not we cover our basic needs,” explains Luc Godbout. Not the $15.75 per hour times the number of hours worked. » The professor of taxation believes that we must carry out a broader analysis to fairly assess the scope of the minimum wage, including this ability to meet “basic needs”, and calculate the interactions with taxation and the cost of the life.

In fact, in all the scenarios presented, this coverage is achieved (therefore 100% and more), with the exception of couples without children, but with a single income at the minimum wage.

“When we look at 2024, whether it is disposable income or the coverage of basic needs, it has improved,” concludes Luc Godbout. Either compared to 2019 or the previous year, 2023.”

Single people

Good to know: the increase of 1er May will allow a single person who earns minimum wage to have $1,200 more at the end of the year, including $900 in disposable income.

A single person will obtain a gross income of $28,362 in Quebec with their minimum salary.

The analysis also notes that the minimum wage represents approximately half of the average hourly remuneration in Quebec (52%) and that it has increased more than inflation over the last five years.

The first will be the last

Alberta is the first Canadian province to cross the threshold of $15 per hour for the minimum wage, an hourly rate that has been maintained for five years. Which means that from first in 2019, the Western province is now last with its salary of $15 – tied with Saskatchewan, which offers the same minimum hourly rate.

Quebec ranks 5e position with the new wage of $15.75, and British Columbia comes out on top, with $17.40.

Who earns minimum wage?

Slightly more women (55%) and young people, since the 15 to 24 year old group is the largest among Quebec workers earning the minimum wage. However, it should be noted that young people who receive the minimum wage (often students) work more part-time – more than eight in ten young people (84%), while seven in ten employees aged 25 to 44 who receive the minimum wage minimum work full-time instead. Only 12% of people who work for minimum wage are parents.

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