Methodological notes: Report on the compensation of Québec employees – Rémunération des salariés. État et évolution comparés, 2015 edition

Comparison of total compensation

Montréal, November 26, 2015 – The 2015 edition of the report on compensation levels and trends entitled Rémunération des salariés. État et évolution comparés, produced by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, presents the detailed results of the comparison of Québec government employees’ salaries and total compensation with those of other Québec employees in 2015. It is the 30th annual report presenting comparison results of employee compensation.

Québec government employees include those in the Québec public service, the education sector (school boards and CEGEPs) and the health and social services sector.

Other Québec employees are those working in enterprises of 200 or more employees in the private sector or in the “other public” sector. The latter comprises the various public administrations and enterprises not included in the Québec government, such as municipal governments (cities with populations of 25,000 or more), government business enterprises, universities, and the federal government in Québec. Employees in the sectors compared may be unionized or non-unionized. Certain sectors, such as agriculture and construction, are excluded.

The envelope of covered compensation is fairly comprehensive. Total compensation is made up of three main components: salaries, benefits, and hours at work. Hours at work are obtained by subtracting paid time off from normal working hours to obtain compensation per hour worked. Salaries account for about 70% of total compensation. The costs for certain elements of total compensation, in particular those related to variable pay and job security, are not taken into consideration in the comparison.

The Institut uses the employer-costs method, which measures employers’ costs for compensation for a given fiscal year. Comparisons are based on the most recent data available. Thus, the average salaries reflect the rates in effect in 2015.

To add another dimension to the salary comparisons, the Institut also disseminates information on salary scales. This analysis is based on the job rates (normal maximums) of the scales, which reflect the employer’s salary policy, as well as on the position of the employees within their scales.

The 76 benchmark jobs used in the comparison are distributed among five occupational categories and represent nearly one in three regular full-time employees of the Québec government. The employees not covered, such as teachers and nurses, generally have no direct and relevant counterparts in the rest of the labour market. When only the truly comparable jobs are taken into account, the coverage increases to 100%.

The comparison is based on compensation differentials. To determine the Québec government’s status in relation to the sectors compared, the Institut uses measures of precision to take into account the risk of error inherent in any data from a survey based on a sample. The procedure used consists of a statistical test with a level of confidence of 95%. A differential with a negative value usually indicates that compensation in the Québec government is less than that in the sector to which it is being compared (the Québec government is behind), while a positive differential indicates greater compensation in the Québec government (the Québec government is ahead). When the statistical test does not make it possible to conclude that the Québec government is ahead or behind, the Institut considers compensation in the two sectors compared to be equivalent (parity). Thus, a differential not equal to 0 may, in certain cases, be considered as an indication of parity.

The Institut also analyzes the evolution of the compensation differentials from 2014 to 2015 as well as over a longer period, from 2009 to 2015.

Salary trends

The results with regard to salary trends for unionized Québec employees are based on the collective-agreement data bank of Québec’s Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale. These agreements cover unionized employees belonging to bargaining units with more than 100 blue-collar workers, more than 50 white-collar employees, or a simultaneous combination of the two, in the case of “mixed” agreements. For the purposes of this analysis, the municipal and federal sectors include the public administrations and government business enterprises of these two levels of government in Québec.

Regarding non-unionized employees, the results are based on salary planning surveys available to the Institut at the time of writing of the report. The participants in these surveys are mainly medium and large enterprises. The data used pertain to salary-scale increases paid and projected for all the occupational categories covered by the Institut’s compensation comparisons.

Québec government agreements expired on March 31, 2015. An agreement must be in effect on December 15 of the year to be considered in the database of the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale.

The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is the statistical coordinator for Québec and the relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.


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  • Nadège Jean
    Coordinator, compensation studies
    Direction des statistiques du travail et de la rémunération
    Phone: 514-876-4384, Ext. 6224