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Quebec increases minimum wage

05/01/2012 12:00 EDT | Updated 07/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Quebec’s minimum wage will jump 25 cents today, a move the government says is aimed at improving the quality of life for the province’s lower-income workers.

The increase, which takes effect on International Workers Day, means the minimum hourly wage in the province is now $9.90. The minimum wage for workers who make tips was also increased by 20 cents to $8.55.

The Quebec government says the hike will allow companies to remain competitive.

However, the move has some businesses concerned.

Martine Herbert, the vice-president of a group that represents independent businesses in Quebec, says hikes in the minimum wage can create an imbalance in the workplace.

“It puts pressure on the small business owners to increase the other wages of people who have been working there for five or 10 years,” she said.

Hebert says the minimum wage has jumped by 25 per cent in the past five years, surpassing the inflation rate.

But others say the latest increase doesn’t go far enough.

A group representing non-unionized workers in Quebec says it would like to see it rise to $11.20 an hour.

Melanie Gauvin, who speaks for the group, says a decade ago, Quebec had the second highest minimum wage in the country.

The province is now near the bottom of the list.

“It's not enough to bring them out of poverty,” said Gauvin. “When someone is working only 25 hours a week, he cannot live with a salary like that.”

B.C. also increased its minimum wage on May 1 to $10.25, one of the highest in Canada.

General minimum wage by province

(source: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada)

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