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 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|
|Federal||-||18 December 1996||Canada had a federal minimum wage until 1996, when the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien eliminated it. Federal minimum wage would apply to about one million workers in federally regulated jurisdictions such as transportation, financial services, telecommunications and broadcasting, and other federal employees.|
|Alberta||11.20||1 October 2015||$10.70 for liquor servers.|
|British Columbia||10.45||15 September 2015||$9.20 for liquor servers.|
|Manitoba||11.00||1 October 2015||For workers in the industrial, commercial, institutional, or heavy construction industry, rates are based on occupational classification. ($30.25 for a boilermaker journeyperson, $32.90 for a bricklayer journeyperson, and $20.90 for a mobile crane operator).|
|New Brunswick||10.65||1 April 2016|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||10.50||1 October 2015|
|Northwest Territories||12.50||1 June 2015|
|Nova Scotia||10.70||1 April 2016||$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||13.00||1 April 2016|
|Ontario||11.25||1 October 2015||
In Ontario, from 2015 on, the minimum wage shall be increased slightly every year. Minimum wage increases shall be announced on 1 April of each year, based on the Consumer Price Index, with the change taking into effect on 1 October of that same year.
|Prince Edward Island||10.75||1 June 2016|
|Québec||10.75||1 May 2016||Workers receiving gratuities receive $9.20|
|Saskatchewan||10.50||1 October 2015|
|Yukon||11.07||1 April 2016||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. Other critics, such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, contend that minimum wage laws actually hurt the very people they purport to help by causing unemployment for low skilled workers.
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- Minimum wage rate by provinces