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SQDC Strike Continues for 22 Stores

Workers at 15 out of 16 stores represented by the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) union have reached an agreement with the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), although a strike by workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) remains unresolved. According to CSN, the agreement includes compensation increases, adjustments to work schedules, and team leader bonuses.

Locations On Strike

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing retail workers in 22 of 24 SQDC outlets, has reported that the strike is still ongoing. In addition, the union said that 75 employees and its officials were suspended for breaking the retailer’s dress code. Many believe this action to be a “pressure technique” from SQDC and was the catalyst for the strike in May.

The dress code policy suggests dressing in all-black (polo shirt and black pants). Employees are encouraged to dress ‘safely’ in pants and closed-toed shoes. If they arrive at work wearing Bermuda shorts and sandals they will be asked to change before returning to work. The SQDC press release states: “The negotiation process is continuing and meetings between the parties are scheduled. For the SQDC, the priority remains to reach a negotiated agreement as soon as possible to the satisfaction of the parties concerned.”

The 22 branches on strike remain open to customers, with a reduced schedule and services provided by the location’s managers. Each branch’s revised hours of operation have been posted on the SQDC website.

The following are the current locations on strike:

  • Rimouski
  • Montreal – Saint-Hubert
  • Drummondville
  • Quebec – Lebourgneuf
  • Lévis – President-Kennedy
  • Joliette
  • Gatineau – de la Gappe
  • Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts
  • Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
  • Brossard – Boulevard Matte
  • Chateauguay
  • Sherbrooke – King Ouest
  • Montreal – Snowdon Metro
  • St. Jerome
  • Shawinigan South
  • Mont Tremblant
  • Saint Hyacinthe
  • Quebec – Les Saules
  • Magog
  • Lachute
  • Mirabel
  • Longueuil – Greenfield Park

SQDC also confirmed that ordering online for standard delivery, express delivery, and in-store pickup are still available.

Wage Data

Minh Nguyen from the Montreal think-tank Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) estimated the living wage for 2021 at $18 per hour in Montreal, compared to Quebec’s current minimum wage of $13.50. On May 1st, 2022, the minimum wage increased to $14.25 per hour.

IRIS Living Wage Report Data

Level of viable income 2020, by type of household and locality
Single Person Single parent with a child in CPE Couple with two children in CPE
Montréal 27 948 $ 39 099 $ 61 009 $
Québec 27 409 $ 38 663 $ 60 280 $
Three Rivers 24 402 $ 35 882 $ 57 900 $
Saguenay 24 083 $ 42 838 $ 64 069 $
Sept-Iles 32 682 $ 44 240 $ 66 036 $
Gatineau 27 682 $ 39 193 $ 61 124 $
Sherbrooke 24 704 $ 36 292 $ 58 249 $

Similarities in Provinces

Quebec is not the first province to have in-depth discussions and debates over living wage and retail store employee policies. British Columbia also has retail employees building awareness campaigns for unionization that stems back as far as 2020. The movement gained traction in Victoria, BC when the social advocacy campaign Budtenders for Living Wage began in April 2022. Budtender For Living Wage commented on the current situation in Quebec, stating, “It’s inevitable acts like this will continue in Canada and hop borders into other provinces – strikes and budtender unionization alike. A living wage is critical for every industry, not just cannabis. The living wage in Victoria is about $20 per hour, and the minimum wage is $15.65 per hour in BC. Considering inflation and a very overdue review of the Cannabis Act [which is] gaining more criticism among industry workers, it’s evident there is a call for structural change in the cannabis industry.”

Tags: Canada Cannabis (138), Cannabis Industry (184), Cannabis Retail (398), CSN union strike (3), CUPE strike (3), IRIS living wage report (1), Quebec cannabis retail stores (4), SQDC (28)