Comité consultatif de lutte
contre la pauvreté et l'exclusion sociale

Online Bulletin no. 22 - May 2017
ISSN 2371-4077 (Online)

A substantial increase in the minimum wage:
A real way to combat poverty


For several months, many voices in Québec have been calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage in the near future. This movement is in line with the movement in the U.S. that has been ongoing for a few years. For Québec, the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) has determined that a living wage1 would be somewhat higher than $15, on average. Some businesses have already moved ahead and now provide that level of income to their employees. The idea is gaining support, and the movement already begun does not seem to be running out of steam. We must ask ourselves why a rich society like Québec can tolerate a situation in which some of its workers, even those working full-time, may not have an income high enough for them to get out of poverty.

However, there are other voices claiming that increasing the minimum age too rapidly would have negative effects on the economy, in terms of competitiveness, job losses and business closures.

This issue of our Online Bulletin looks at the position taken over the years by the Comité on the question of the minimum wage. The Comité considers that the minimum wage is still a poverty-fighting measure that complements the other socio-fiscal measures adopted by the government. Of course, employers are more directly affected than other stakeholders since an increase in the minimum wage forces them to increase the wages they pay to their employees.

1. A wage that allows a full-time employee to earn enough money to meet his or her basic needs and those of his or her dependants, participate in the cultural, political and economic aspects of daily life, as well as providing a room to manoeuvre with a view to changing his or her socioeconomic situation. From Philippe HURTEAU and Minh NGUYEN, "Les conditions d’un salaire viable au Québec en 2016?" Note socioéconomique, [n.p.], IRIS, April 2016, 7 pages. (French only)