10/29/2018 13:48 EDT | Updated 10/29/2018 13:54 EDT

Simons Raises Minimum Wage To $16 In Quebec

The provincial minimum is $12.

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La Maison Simons signage is displayed in this photo taken outside of a department store in Montreal on Nov. 5, 2011.

In the face of a provincial labour shortage, a Quebec retail giant has taken the lead on boosting the minimum wage it will offer its employees.

Wages for entry-level employees for La Maison Simons (widely known as Simons) will start at $16 an hour in Quebec, well above the province's minimum wage of $12, according to CBC News.

The company currently has 2,500 employees both in and outside Quebec.

Helps retain 'really good talent'

Chris Bell, an associate professor at York University's Schulich School Of Business, told HuffPost Canada the biggest advantage to a company raising minimum wage is the ability to "retain really good talent."

"And that's pretty important because there's a lot of churn in minimum wage jobs, especially if you have younger people who are moving on," he said.

And if you can't promise a lot of upward mobility, you kind of want to make sure that you're training people and that they're going to stay— that you're keeping the good people and making them stay for a longer period of time."

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A pedestrian carries a La Maison Simons Inc. shopping bag in downtown Montreal on Dec. 24, 2016.

Experts have said Quebec's labour shortage is already affecting the province's economy, and predict one-third of workers will need to be replaced in the next 10 years.

Bell said it's hard to keep workers at minimum-wage jobs, where the churn and turnover is very high.

"Being able to provide for the employees and make sure that they're able to support themselves, it creates loyalty and a commitment to the organization," he said.

"But also just in terms of the market, it gives you a greater capability to hire in the best people, train them up, and keep them."

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During the provincial election last month, both the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire campaigned on a promise of a $15 minimum wage.

But newly-elected Premier Francois Legault had called raising the minimum wage to $15 "an extremely dangerous game" that would encourage young people to drop out of school, according to La Presse.

Bell said if provinces raise their minimum wage to levels like Ontario's — where minimum wage has gone up to $14 — companies like Simons will lose their competitive advantage.

But there's still an incentive to do it now.

"They get an advantage also through reputation as being a company with particular values toward their employees and that can make a big difference for a lot of people," he said.

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