Minimum wage in Canada

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Minimum wage levels in developed economies as a share of median full-time wage. The relative minimum wage ratio in Canada is shown in black.[1]

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. Some provinces allow lower wages to be paid to liquor servers and other gratuity earners or to inexperienced employees.

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.[2] This means, for example, that a railway company could not legally pay a worker in British Columbia less than C$12.65 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."[3]

Minimum wage levels by jurisdiction[edit]

Assuming a 40-hour workweek and 52 paid weeks a year, the annual gross income of an individual earning the lowest minimum wage in Canada is C$22,880 (in Nova Scotia) and the highest minimum wage is C$31,200 (in Alberta).[2]

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.

Note: The following table can be sorted by Jurisdiction, Wage, or Effective date using the Sort both.gif icon.

Jurisdiction Wage (C$/h) Effective date Comments Indexation Formula

("CPI" refers to Statistics Canada's Consumer Price Index — All-items)

Alberta[2] 15.00 October 1, 2018
British Columbia[2] 12.65 June 1, 2018

To be increased on June 1, 2019 to $13.85, on June 1, 2020 to $14.60, and on June 1, 2021 to $15.20[6] ($12.70, $13.95 and $15.20 respectively for liquor servers)[7]

Manitoba[2][8] 11.35 October 1, 2018
  • Security guards: $12.50
  • Workers in the construction industry (industrial, commercial, institutional, or heavy construction sectors): rates based on occupational classification
Each October 1, based on Manitoba CPI for the previous calendar year, unless the government decrees a freeze due to economic conditions.[9]
New Brunswick[2] 11.25 April 1, 2018
Newfoundland and Labrador[2] 11.15 April 1, 2018 Each April 1, based on Canada CPI for the previous calendar year.[10]
Northwest Territories[2] 13.46 April 1, 2018
Nova Scotia[2][11] 11.00 April 1, 2018
  • Inexperienced workers (less than three months employed in the type of work they are hired to do): $10.50

To be increased on April 1, 2019 to $11.55.[12]

Each April 1, based on Canada CPI for January through November of the previous calendar year.[13] Larger increases are planned for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Nunavut[2] 13.00 April 1, 2016
Ontario[2][14] 14.00 January 1, 2018
  • Students (under age 18, working 28 hours or under per week while school is in session or work when there is a school break): $13.15
  • Liquor servers: $12.20
  • Homeworkers (includes students and supersedes the student wage): $15.40
Each October 1 (resuming in 2020), based on Ontario CPI for the previous calendar year.[15]
Prince Edward Island[2] 11.55 April 1, 2018
Québec[2][16] 12.00 May 1, 2018

The previous government intended to raise the minimum wage to 50% of the provincial average wage in 2020.[17] An anticipated schedule of increases was announced in 2017.[18] Due to strong wage growth, the 2018 increase was greater than anticipated.

Saskatchewan[2] 11.06 October 1, 2018 Each October 1, based on the average of the changes in the Saskatchewan CPI and in the average hourly wage in Saskatchewan as measured by Statistics Canada for the previous year, subject to Cabinet approval.[19]
Yukon[2] 11.51 April 1, 2018 Each April 1, based on Whitehorse CPI for the previous calendar year.[20]


Critics of the minimum wage, such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the C. D. Howe Institute, contend that minimum wage laws actually hurt the very people they purport to help by forcing employers to raise prices, reduce staff, or close down.[21] Another critic of minimum wage increases, University of Laval economics professor Stephen Gordon, has argued that the poverty-reducing impacts of the minimum wage are overstated. In his National Post article Gordon writes:

The case for increasing the minimum wage has problems in both dimensions: the losses in total income are typically underestimated (when they are not being dismissed out of hand) and the putative reductions in income inequality are almost certainly being overstated. Let’s examine total incomes first. Labour demand curves slope down: everything else being equal, higher wages reduce the quantity of labour employers demand. And fewer people with jobs means less total income. If the theoretical point is clear — and I’m not aware of a compelling theoretical argument suggesting that employers will react to higher minimum wage by hiring more workers — the empirical evidence is not.[22]

Other Canadian economists have supported minimum wage increases. David Green, a professor and director at the Vancouver School of Economics, has conducted extensive research on the minimum wage’s effects on the economy. In his work entitled “The Case for Increasing Minimum Wage”, Green presents a rebuttal to the critics of the minimum wage stating:

Claims that increases in the minimum wage will generate huge efficiency costs for the economy and mass unemployment are not credible. While estimates of employment losses from minimum wage increases for teenagers in Canada exist, the estimated effects on adult employment are minimal at best. Those results cannot be translated into big costs for the economy.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OECD Statistics". Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Experienced Adult Workers in Canada".
  3. ^ Galarneau, Diane; Fecteau, Eric. "The ups and downs of minimum wage". Statistics Canada. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "Clark increases B.C. minimum wage after decade-long freeze". Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  5. ^ "Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Young Workers And Specific Occupations".
  6. ^ Engagement, Government Communications and Public. "Information for Employers - Province of British Columbia".
  7. ^ Labour. "Raises coming for liquor servers and other alternate minimum wage earners".
  8. ^ "Employment Standards - Employment Standards".
  9. ^ Justice, Manitoba. "Manitoba Laws".
  10. ^ "CNLR 781/96 - Labour Standards Regulations under the Labour Standards Act".
  11. ^ "Minimum Wage : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights". April 4, 2005.
  12. ^ "Minister Accepts Minimum Wage Increase Recommendations". January 8, 2019.
  13. ^ "Minimum Wage Order (General) - Labour Standards Code (Nova Scotia)".
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Law Document English View". November 24, 2018.
  16. ^ "Wages - CNESST".
  17. ^ "Quebec to make largest-ever increase to minimum wage". January 17, 2018.
  18. ^, Zone Économie -. "Le salaire minimum au Québec grimpera de 0,50 $ en mai".
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Minimum Wage and Minimum Wage Regulation - Department of Community Services- Government of Yukon". 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  21. ^ Marchand, Joseph. "Thinking about Minimum Wage Increases in Alberta: Theoretically, Empirically, and Regionally". CD Howe Institute. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  22. ^ Stephen Gordon (2016). "The high cost of minimum wage".
  23. ^ David Green (2015). "The Case for Increasing the Minimum Wage" (PDF).

External links[edit]