Minimum wage employees, an endangered species

Since the pandemic, employers are offering more than the minimum wage to attract employees, even for positions at the bottom of the ladder.

Minimum wage employees, an endangered species

Since the pandemic, employers are offering more than the minimum wage to attract employees, even for positions at the bottom of the ladder.

• Read also: Increase in the minimum wage: more pressure for SMEs in Quebec

• Read also: Here is the number of hours you have to work per week at minimum wage to pay your rent

"We're up to almost $18 an hour for our lifeguards in the pools. Five years ago it was minimum wage. These are student jobs,” says Cindy Pellerin, of Camping Luciole, in Beauce. “We also offer them sweaters and meals when the food trucks come. We have to do this to attract them,” she adds.

To counter the labor shortage, employers must roll out the red carpet to attract workers. The minimum wage in Quebec is currently $14.25 an hour, but candidates often demand much more.

Divers at $20 per hour

“In restaurants, there is no longer anyone paid minimum wage. The average salary for dishwashers (dishwashers) in the fall of 2022 is $16.18 per hour. And I've seen divers making $20 an hour. Even a fast-food cook is $18.27 on average,” says Martin Vézina, VP of public and government affairs at the Association de la restauration du Québec.

The examples are numerous. VIA Rail is currently looking for people to work from home in its call center. The requirement is only a Secondary 5, and the company offers upwards of $25 per hour.

Big impact of the pandemic

“In the midst of a pandemic, the candidates were not shy to say: “I did my calculation, and the PCU pays me even more”. So I said to my members: you have no choice, you have to put your hand in your pocket and pay better, "says Richard Darveau, president of the Quebec Association of Hardware and Building Materials. .

“Minimum wage jobs, there are no more in the hardware stores. There were some before, such as cashiers or window dressers. But they too want more than minimum wage today,” adds Darveau.

“Me and my partner went for our lifeguard course too. We have no choice, if a rescuer falls ill we have to play the replacements, "said Cindy Pellerin. "Even the employees for our bathrooms, it's made $20 an hour!" " she says.

No turning back

Even if the pandemic ends, difficult for companies to go back. "You can't say: I gave you $17 and then, as the Covid is over, you go back to $15. It doesn't work that way,” says Richard Darveau.

The latter is now campaigning for a reduction in opening hours, the only way to absorb the costs and avoid passing them on to the customer. "We don't want to pass on our cost increase to our customers. Especially since the competition isn't just the neighboring hardware store, it's also Amazon, which has a lot of purchasing power," he explains.

The Institut du Québec recently noted that in one year, the hourly wages offered for vacant positions have increased by 9.2%. This is the largest annual increase since the comparable data was published, and a more marked increase than that of the Consumer Price Index (7.5%).

Minimum hourly wage:

2016: $10.75

2017: $11.25

2018: $12.00

2019: $12.50

2020: $13.10

2021: $13.50

2022: $14.25

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