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 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.
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. Based on 2013 exchange rates, the Canadian minimum wage in every jurisdiction is higher than the federal minimum wage in the United States of US$7.25 per hour and the minimum wage of the state of Washington of US$9.19 (the highest minimum wage in the US); however, some cities within the US have their own minimum wages which are higher than those in Canada.
The following table lists the hourly minimum wages for adult workers in each province and territory of Canada. The provinces which have their minimum wages in bold allow for lower wages under circumstances which are described under the "Comments" heading.
|Jurisdiction||Wage (C$/h)||Effective date||Comments|
|Alberta||9.95||1 September 2013||$9.05 for liquor servers. Any further increases will be set on a yearly basis using the Consumer Price Index as well as average weekly earnings in Alberta. On September 1, 2013, the minimum wage was increased by $.20 to $9.95 per hour.|
|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||10.30||1 April 2013||$9.80 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||Currently the highest in Canada.|
|Ontario||10.25||31 March 2010||
The Ontario government's current custom is that, in any year when the minimum wage changes, the change takes effect on Mar. 31 of that year. For 2013, the government decided to keep the general minimum wage at $10.25.
|Prince Edward Island||10.00||1 April, 2012|
|Québec||10.15||1 May 2013||Workers receiving gratuities receive $8.75.|
|Saskatchewan||10.00||1 December 2012|
|Yukon||10.54||1 April 2013||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