Minimum wage in Canada
Under the Canadian Constitution, the responsibility for enacting and enforcing labour laws, including the minimum wage, rests with the ten provinces as well as the three territories which have been granted this power by federal legislation. This means that each province and territory has its own minimum wage. The lowest general minimum wage currently in force is that of Alberta (C$9.95 per hour) and the highest is that of Ontario and Nunavut (C$11.00 per hour). Some provinces allow lower wages to be paid to liquor servers and other gratuity earners or to inexperienced employees. The Employment Standards Act of British Columbia had up until 2011 allowed employers to pay as little as C$6 per hour to new workers with less than 500 hours of work experience (about three months of full-time employment).
The federal government in past years set its own minimum wage rates for workers in federal jurisdiction industries (railways for example). In 1996, however, the federal minimum wage was re-defined to be the general adult minimum wage rate of the province or territory where the work is performed. This means, for example, that a railway company could not legally pay a worker in British Columbia less than C$10.25 per hour regardless of the worker's experience.
In 2013, 39.8% of minimum wage workers were between the ages of 15 and 19; in 1997, it was 36%. 50.2% of workers in this age group were paid minimum wage in 2013, an increase from 31.5% in 1997. Statistics Canada notes that "youth, women and persons with a low level of education were the groups most likely to be paid at minimum wage."
Minimum wage levels by jurisdiction
Assuming a 40-hour workweek and 52 weeks worked a year, the gross monthly income of an individual earning the lowest minimum wage in Canada is C$1,725 and the highest minimum wage is C$1,907. Similarly, the yearly gross income of an individual earning the lowest minimum wage in Canada is C$20,696 and the highest minimum wage is C$22,880.
The following table lists the hourly minimum wages for adult workers in each province and territory of Canada. The provinces which have their minimum wages in bold allow for lower wages under circumstances which are described under the "Comments" heading.
|Jurisdiction||Wage (C$/h)||Effective date||Comments|
|Alberta||9.95||1 September 2013||$9.05 for liquor servers. Effective September 1, 2014, Alberta’s general minimum wage will increase to $10.20 per hour and $9.20 for liquor servers.|
|British Columbia||10.25||1 May 2012||$9.00 for liquor servers.|
|Manitoba||10.45||1 October 2013||Workers involved in construction have a higher starting minimum wage.|
|New Brunswick||10.00||1 April 2012|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||10.00||1 July 2010|
|Northwest Territories||10.00||1 April 2011|
|Nova Scotia||10.40||1 April 2014||$9.90 for inexperienced workers (less than three months employed in the type of work they are hired to do). On 1 April of each year, this rate is to increase to reflect changes in Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-Off figures for the previous year.|
|Nunavut||11.00||1 January 2011|
|Ontario||11.00||1 June 2014||
The Ontario government's former custom was that, in any year when the minimum wage changes, the change takes effect on 31 March of that year. However, the government decided to have the next minimum wage increase effective on June 1, 2014 instead to $11/hr.
|Prince Edward Island||10.00||1 April 2012|
|Québec||10.35||1 May 2014||Workers receiving gratuities receive $8.90.|
|Saskatchewan||10.00||1 December 2012|
|Yukon||10.72||1 April 2014||Yukon currently pegs annual increases every 1 April to its minimum wage using the Consumer Price Index.|
Critics of the current minimum wage levels in Canada argue that they are insufficient and advocate that the minimum wage is increased to what they consider a living wage. The New Democratic Party in 2007 called for a separate federal minimum wage of C$10 per hour, however, such a change could not be enforced on any employer operating under provincial jurisdiction, unless the province voluntarily agreed to harmonize its own minimum wage with the federal government. On 1 October 2009, M.P. Irene Mathyssen introduced a private member's bill (C-448) to amend the Canada Labour Code with regard to the minimum wage and have the federal minimum wage set to C$12 per hour.
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- Minimum wage rate by provinces