When I started working about 15 years ago, I was paid about slightly above minimum wage, at $6.90 per hour. I worked at large clothing retailer, folding khakis and giving on advice on whether or not a customer looked best in “boot cut” or “loose fit” jeans. Since those halcyon denim days, I have noticed a steady and continual increase in the minimum wage rate in Québec.
Indeed, as the Commission des Normes de Travail helpfully outlines on its site, minimum wage has been steadily progressing from its institution at $4.35 per hour in 1986. As of May 1, 2011, the minimum wage in Québec is now $9.65 per hour (for employees who don’t make regular tips).
Across Canada, the majority of minimum wages rates don’t vary greatly – the lowest hourly rate is $8.00 in Alberta and the highest is $11.00 in Nunavut.
The historical purpose of the minimum wage was to ensure that employees who needed work weren’t taken advantage of and could “make a living” no matter their education level or type of work. It was historically intended to provide a “living wage”. Many say that current minimum wage rates are insufficient to allow to someone to live.
A full-time employee (37.5 hours) in Québec who makes minimum wage will take home $18,817.00 annually. After tax (using this very much unofficial tax calculator), they will net $16,449.30. At the high end, a full-time employee in Nunavut will take home $19,428.67 after taxes.
Is the minimum wage achieving its historical goal of providing a “living wage”? What do you think?