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Minimum wage: small business has been heard

In recent months, there has been a lot of public debate about a minimum wage increase. Some groups say that hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour would support low-income workers, but they’re not considering the impact it’s going to have on your ability to grow your business and the economy as a whole. We do. That’s why we are firmly against it and are proposing other alternatives to help low-income workers.

The worst has been avoided but small businesses will need support!
We defended your position in all forums and your representatives heard us loud and clear! The government announced a successive increase in the minimum wage over four years, which aims to better support low-income workers without, however, undermining the competitiveness of Quebec businesses and their ability to pay. As of May 1st 2017, the minimum wage will increase to $11.25/h, up 50¢, and to $9.45/h for workers with tips. Small businesses can rest assured that they have avoided the worst. We will now be fighting for a reduction in payroll taxes, which would offset the costs of an incremental increase that will bring the minimum wage to $12.45 per hour in 2020.

Let’s be clear: do we think that low-income individuals should receive better support? 
Of course we do!

Is hiking the minimum wage the best way to do it?
Probably not!

A large, rapid increase in the minimum wage could actually have a negative impact on low-income workers, on you, and on the economy as a whole.

  • Strong pressure on SME labour costs: By increasing the wages of their less experienced workers by close to 40%, business owners who want to be fair to all of their workers will be under pressure to grant the same treatment to workers with more experience and those in more skilled jobs.
  • Impact on jobs, work hours, and prices: With higher operating costs, some SME owners will be forced to cut work hours and even jobs. They will have to postpone plans to hire more workers and they may have to increase their prices significantly in order to survive.
  • Not all of the money will end up in workers’ pockets: Depending on the status of a person working full-time at the minimum wage, they may never see approximately one third of the increase, which will go directly to the government for taxes and various social programs (the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, etc.).

A Win-Win Solution To avoid these harmful effects on the economy, we are proposing other ways to support low-income individuals, such as an increase in the Basic Personal Exemption for full-time workers. This win-win solution would help:

  • Low-income workers, by ensuring that more money stays into their pockets;
  • Employers, by providing them with the latitude they need to increase the salaries of more experienced workers who deserve a wage increase, while keeping their prices competitive; and,
  • Society in general, by maintaining conditions conducive to job creation; stimulating the economy; and, supporting low-income individuals while maintaining the viability of our SMEs. 

CFIB in action!
In order to ensure that the SME perspective onthis issue is heard and promote our stronger solution for supporting low-incomeworkers, we have:

  • issuing a press release (in French only) about the successive increase in the miminum wage;
  • create an online petition that we presented to the government;
  • writing a letter to the Minister of Labour;
  • writing an open letter entitled "Myths and realities about a $15 minimum wage" that was quoted in numerous newspapers;
  • issuing a press release (in French only) to mark International Workers’ Day. 

We invite you to read them and to read ourreport entitled, "Minimum Wage: Reframing the Debate."