205,400 workers still at minimum wage in Quebec

$ 1365. This is the additional amount that minimum wage workers will receive for the next 12 months thanks to the $ 0.75 increase on May 1. But who are these people at the bottom of the wage ladder while companies are looking for talent?

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Professor of Taxation and Public Finance at Sherbrooke University, Luc Godbout, and his colleague, Suzie St-Cerny, have published a study on the minimum wage and cost of living.

In 2021, 205,400 workers earned $ 13.50 per hour, the minimum amount set by Quebec. They accounted for 4.8% of total employment.

From tomorrow, the minimum wage will rise to $ 14.25. Over a year, for a 35-hour week, the harvest will be $ 25,935 instead of $ 24,570.

According to Quebec, this change will benefit 301,100 people, as inflation continues to put pressure on people’s wallets.

Especially the young

Last year, 60% of minimum wage workers were between the ages of 15 and 24, and 70% worked in retail, housing or restaurant services.

“Obviously, there are a lot of students,” said Mr. Godbout, believing it is still possible to cover his basic needs with this salary and the exceptional benefits paid by governments.

Nearly one in two people (47%) at $ 13.50 an hour worked in a company with fewer than 20 people in 2021, and 62% were part-time. Nine out of 10 employees had no children and 30% did not have a high school diploma in their pockets.

Over the past two years, Quebec has failed to meet its goal of a 50% minimum wage to average wage. The job market has been rocked by the health crisis and closures.

Over $ 15?

With inflation, which could push the average wage this year, the minimum wage could reach $ 15 in 2023. Labor Minister Jean Boulet is already discussing this possibility in an interview with Tree trunk.

“In the context of a shortage of labor, with the reversal of the balance of power, there will be strong pressure on increasing the average hourly wage. Probably, next year, we will be at 15 dollars and maybe more than that “, replied the minister.

With an unemployment rate of 4.1% in March, it is the worker who is in a position of strength relative to the employer. Mr. Boulet believes this annual change turns into other, higher wages.

In recent months, executives have expressed concern over labor shortages, which are forcing them to cut shifts and contracts.

Fast food chains such as Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s have also been forced to reduce restaurant opening hours.

As Cogeco’s chairman of the board, Louis Audet, has demanded $ 20 an hour and the FTQ, $ 18 an hour, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business prepares to settle a hefty $ 237 million bill for the new full shortage increase.

In December, the federal minimum wage was raised to $ 15 per hour.

To determine the impact of the minimum wage increase, the researchers calculated on the basis of 35 hours per week for 52 weeks. Primary needs are food, clothing, shelter and transport.

Francois Belanger

Francesco Halin

Francois Belanger

To attract new talent when the salary offered is close to the minimum amount, employers must distinguish themselves by giving different candies to job seekers, who are spoiled for choice.

“I’m looking for design work infographics a less $ 20 per hour ” –François Bélanger, 53, graduate in social assistance converted to designer

From 2018 to 2021, due to labor shortages, the number of minimum wage earners in the province decreased by nearly 32%, from 300,300 to 205,400, according to statistics from the Quebec Institute.

In the National Capital, the Village Vacances Valcartier (VVV) recruits heavily when the summer season knocks on our doors. The company does not escape, like all the others, the challenges related to recruitment.

There are several advantages on the table to attract younger workers: discounts on gasoline; free shuttles for transport; free access to the facilities during the summer; $ 5 meal on site.


Most of the minimum wage employees are students: slides, reception, ticketing, housekeeping, and catering staff.

Alex Pinske

Photo Francesco Halin

Alex Pinske

“I want more of the minimum salary. $ 16 an hour would be nice in social work ” –Alex Pinske, 21, on study break

“People who return from season to season change their salary,” said communications director Sandra Nadeau, adding that as soon as a function requires training, as a lifeguard, the pay increases. It is about 250-300 employees who need to be brought to light.

In recent days, at the Montreal job fair, where more than 10,000 jobs were to be filled, just 10% of companies offered minimum wage positions.

“The company offering the minimum wage today will have a hard time recruiting because its competition will offer more attractive salaries,” said Éric Boutié, president of L’Événement Carrières.

Éric Boutié, president of L'Événement Carrières

Photo Francesco Halin

Éric Boutié, president of L’Événement Carrières


At food giant Metro, talent acquisition consultant Romain Béland said it’s “very difficult” to recruit in-store.

“In general, these are unionized positions. They are not all on the minimum wage, she said. There are too many positions available in the market right now. Even though we have competitive advantages, the world has a choice, ”she adds.

Romain Béland, Talent Acquisition Advisor of Metro

Photo Francesco Halin

Romain Béland, Talent Acquisition Advisor of Metro

As the economic recovery begins, Quebeckers looking for a better career future hope to attract the attention of employers, who are severely understaffed. The newspaper he went to meet them at L’Événement Carrières, at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal.


Samy Arkour

Photo Francesco Halin

Samy Arkour

For Samy Akrour, a French immigrant with 20 years of sales experience and a telephone operator diploma in his pocket, working for the minimum wage is the lesser evil if it allows him to settle in Quebec.

“I am a salesman. I have 20 years of experience on sale ” –Samy Akrour, looking for a job

“It wouldn’t bother me,” says the man, who is looking for work to move with his girlfriend to Boucherville, on Montreal’s South Shore.

Salesman, handler, call center manager … the man is ready to roll up his sleeves to find what suits him after developing his sales skills for large companies.

“I am a very thrifty person. I know how to be careful. I know how to manage my budget. I don’t mind renting a small room for $ 400, ”explains the man that he’s not afraid of getting paid less at first to settle here.

“I can go to Maxi, Dollarama and Giant Tiger to really cook the minimum. Even if it is necessary to start from the bottom, I am aware that I am arriving here ”, she concludes.


Stefania Ndoki

Photo Francesco Halin

Stefania Ndoki

For Stéphanie Ndoki, a ten-year advertising designer and copywriter who currently works for the minimum wage in a call center to support her family, this necessary step portends a better future.

“I hope to find a better paying job in my field”–Stéphanie Ndoki, looking for work

“I have a food business job in customer service, but ideally I’d like to find something in my field,” says the permanent resident who has just arrived in Quebec for four months.

Publicis, DDB, Voodoo … Stéphanie Ndoki, bilingual, has a well-stocked curriculum in the world’s largest agencies in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana.

As inflation damages his wallet more and more, look for a job that matches his skills.

“It’s a bit difficult, given the standard of living here. Being on the minimum wage isn’t necessarily easy, ”concludes the mother of two.


205.400 workers
4.8% of the entire labor market


15-24 years: 60%
25-44 years: 19%
45-54 years: 6%
55 and over: 14%


52% women
48% men


72% permanent
28% temporary


  • Primary 3%
  • Production 5%
  • Trade 50%
  • Health and social assistance 3%
  • Information, culture and free time 3%
  • Accommodation and catering services 20%
  • Other sectors grouped 16%


47% less than 20 employees
41% from 20 to 99 employees
12% 100 or more employees


629.400 employees in Quebec

Sources: Who are the Quebec families who work at or near the minimum wage? by Luc Godbout and Suzie St-Cerny, Quebec Institute of Statistics

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