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. 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. 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 paid weeks a year, the gross monthly income of an individual earning the lowest minimum wage in Canada is C$1,880.67 (in Nova Scotia) and the highest minimum wage is C$2,357.15 (in Alberta). Similarly, the yearly gross income of an individual earning the lowest minimum wage in Canada is C$22,568.00 (in Nova Scotia) and the highest minimum wage is C$28,285.80 (in Alberta).
The following table lists the hourly minimum wages for adult workers in each province and territory of Canada. The provinces which have their minimum wages in bold allow for lower wages under circumstances which are described under the "Comments" heading.
|Jurisdiction||Wage (C$/h)||Effective date||Comments|
|Federal||----||18 December 1996||Canada had a federal minimum wage until 1996, when it was abolished in favour of applying the provincial minimum wage to federally regulated industries.|
|Alberta||13.60||1 October 2017||To be increased on 1 October 2018 to $15.00.|
|British Columbia||11.35||15 September 2017||$10.10 for liquor servers.|
|Manitoba||11.15||1 October 2017||$12.50 for security guards; rates based on occupational classification for workers in the industrial, commercial, institutional, or heavy construction industry ($33.40 for a boilermaker journeyperson, $36.30 for a bricklayer journeyperson, and $25.25 for a mobile crane operator). On 1 October of each year, the minimum wage is adjusted to reflect changes in Statistics Canada’s all-items Consumer Price Index for Manitoba, for the previous calendar year, unless the government decrees a freeze due to economic conditions.|
|New Brunswick||11.00||1 April 2017|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||11.00||1 October 2017|
|Northwest Territories||12.50||1 June 2015|
|Nova Scotia||10.85||1 April 2017||$10.35 for inexperienced workers (less than three months employed in the type of work they are hired to do). On 1 April of each year, the minimum wage is adjusted to reflect changes in Statistics Canada’s all-items Consumer Price Index for Canada, for January through November of the previous year.|
|Nunavut||13.00||1 April 2016|
|Ontario||11.40||1 October 2017||
On May 30, 2017, it was announced Ontario's minimum wage would rise to $14.00 on January 1, 2018, and to $15.00 on January 1, 2019. In 2015, the government had stated that minimum wage increases will be announced on April 1st of each year, based on the Consumer Price Index for Ontario, with the change taking into effect on October 1st of that same year.
|Prince Edward Island||11.25||1 April 2017|
|Québec||11.25||1 May 2017||To be increased on 1 May 2018 to $11.75, on 1 May 2019 to $12.10, and on 1 May 2020 to $12.45.|
|Saskatchewan||10.96||1 October 2017||Each year, the minimum wage may be adjusted to reflect the average of the changes in the all-items Consumer Price Index for Saskatchewan and in the average hourly wage in Saskatchewan as measured by Statistics Canada, for the previous calendar year.|
|Yukon||11.32||1 April 2017||On 1 April of each year, the minimum wage is adjusted to reflect changes in Statistics Canada’s all-items Consumer Price Index for Whitehorse.|
Some 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.
Other critics, 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.
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- Minimum wage rate by provinces