May Day protests: Better wages demanded to survive inflation

In Toronto, about 100 protesters from different walks of life – some front-line workers, others migrant workers employed by agricultural producers – had gathered outside Queens Park to demand an increase in the minimum wage to 20 dollars an hour to compensate for the loss of their purchasing power.

A minimum wage of $15 an hour is not enoughsaid a protester. All prices go up, but not the salary. The workers find themselves in precarious conditions. Rents are going up, everything is going up, why then are our salaries so low?

These demands were echoed in Montreal and Quebec, where demonstrators denounced increases deemed insufficient in the minimum wage.

For the Coalition 1er mai, which organized the rally in Montreal, the increase to $14.25 per hour in the minimum wage is indecent.

Right now, the minimum wage is what workers needed seven years agoexplains its spokesperson Marie-Claude Tremblay, who recalls that wages have not kept up with inflation.

It’s not normal, it’s not decent for workers to be forced to have two or three jobs and still remain in precariousnessshe pleaded.

At the bottom of the ladder

The secretary general of the Conseil central de Québec–Chaudière-Appalaches (CSN), François Proulx-Duperré, agrees.

Even if we look at $14.25 an hour for someone working full time, it’s impossible to get there with the rise in [prix du] housing, food and gasolinesays the one who took part in the demonstration in Quebec.

A lady holds a basket of fruits and vegetables in a grocery store.

In March, the Bank of Canada calculated that the consumer price index reached 6.7%, well above the target range of 1 to 3%. Gasoline and food prices in particular have risen in recent months.

Photo: iStock

Québec solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal, who was with a contingent of her party in Montreal, is of the opinion that the minimum wage must reach $18 an hour to provide decent living conditions.

What is catastrophic and very infuriating today is that there are people who are at the bottom of the ladder, who work full time and who have to go to food banks. »

A quote from Ruba Ghazal, MP for Québec solidaire

The Collective for a Poverty-Free Quebec has been demanding a minimum wage of $18 an hour since last fall. According to the group, more than 850,000 Quebec workers earned this salary or a lower hourly rate in 2021.

The Research Chair in Taxation and Public Finance at the University of Sherbrooke maintains that the number of Quebec workers earning the minimum wage is at its lowest level in 15 years.

The business world requires a balance

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) calls for caution, being of the opinion that Quebec companies are already having difficulty with the increase in the minimum wage to $14.25 an hour.

Its vice-president, François Vincent, points out that SMEs themselves are affected by the increase in the price of goods and services.

Half of Quebec businesses have fewer than five employees. However, the smaller the company, the greater the cost increases. »

A quote from François Vincent, vice-president of the CFIB

This is why he considers necessary financial aid from the government to help SMEs, which are at a disadvantage compared to large companies in their ability to absorb salary increases and the increase in the cost of living.

The CFIB believes that small businesses could do well if they benefited from a reduction in taxation, in particular the payroll tax.

According to Francois Vincent, government policies must achieve a balance in order to meet the needs of citizens, without negatively affecting the economic fabric of small businesses in Quebec .

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