There is some good news for the province's minimum wage
earners. On International Workers Day (May 1), the minimum wage
increase took effect in Québec. The minimum hourly wage in
the province is now $9.90, an increase of 25 cents. The minimum
hourly wage for the employees who make tips was also increased by
20 cents to $8.55.
In the past five years, the minimum wage has jumped by 25%. This
hike surpasses the inflation rate for the same period. Indeed,
according to the Bank of Canada's official figures, the average
annual rate of inflation for 2007-2012 is 1.84%. Theoretically,
this means more money in the pockets of lower-income citizens.
However, the increase has some people concerned. According to
this news article, representatives of independent
businesses in Québec point out that the recent hike
implicitly puts pressure on the employers to increase the wages of
other workers who have been in their employ for a substantial
period of time. In turn, others say that the latest increase does
not go far enough. Although Québec had once the second
highest minimum wage in the country, it now has one of the lowest,
with only Saskatchewan, Alberta and Yukon offering lesser
According to article 40 of an Act Respecting Labour
Standards (the "Act"), an employee
must be paid a wage that is at least equivalent to the minimum
wage. However, there are exceptions and certain workers are not
covered by this provision. Some of these workers include: students
working for a non-profit organization that has a social or
community mission (e.g., a summer camp); interns or apprentices in
professional training programs recognized by the law (e.g.,
articling students in law or interns in accounting); workers
entirely paid on commission who work in a commercial activity
off-site, and whose work hours are not controlled by the employer
(e.g., commissioned telephone salesperson working from home); some
of the workers employed in fruit and horticultural production,
Generally, employees who do not receive their remuneration are
not without recourses. Under article 98 of the Act, where the
employer fails to pay the wages, the Commission des normes du
travail (the "CNT"), on behalf of
the affected employee, may claim the unpaid wages from that
employer. In fact, the CNT may claim any commission owing to an
employee remunerated insofar as it can submit evidence of this debt
to a court. It is therefore important for all parties to keep the
right documentation to show that owed sums were paid (or not!).
In collaboration with Andrei Molchynsky, student at Norton
Rose Canada LLP
About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC)
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