What Is the Minimum Wage in Canada?

FT Contributor  | 

Canadian provinces and territories set their own minimum wages and there’s no national set wage. If you’re considering moving to Canada, it’s also important to note that the minimum wage that applies to you may also depend on the type of work you perform.

Similar to how U.S. states may set their own minimum wage laws, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments are responsible for setting minimum wages. The minimum wages that each province or territory sets must also be approved by the Canadian federal Cabinet before it goes into effect.

The minimum wage is set to ensure workers can live independently and comfortably on a regular full-time salary. The government takes into consideration the cost of living in a region and in some cases, the employee’s position, experience level, and age.

Since many factors, such as living expenses and taxes, are constantly fluctuating in Canadian regions, minimum wages in provinces and territories may change annually. To learn how the minimum wage regulations may apply to you, review the minimum wages that apply to certain provinces and territories.

Minimum Wage in Canada’s Provinces

Canadian provinces are responsible for setting minimum wages that reflect the current costs of living. Most Canadian minimum wages are higher than the minimum wages set in most U.S. states. The provincial minimum wage rates listed below (in Canadian dollars) are based on one working hour.

  • Alberta: $15 for general workers and $13 for students under 18 working less than 28 hour per week while attending school;
  • British Columbia: $13.85 for general workers but increasing to $14.60 on June 1, 2020 and $12.70 for liquor servers but increasing to $13.95 on June 1, 2020;
  • Manitoba: $11.65 for all workers;
  • New Brunswick: $11.50 for all workers but increasing to $11.70 on April 1, 2020;
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: $11.40 for all workers but increasing to $11.65 on April 1, 2020, then increasing to $12.15 on October 1, 2020;
  • Nova Scotia: $11.55 for experienced workers but increasing to $12.55 on April 1, 2020 and $11.05 for inexperienced workers;
  • Ontario: $14 for general workers, $12.20 for liquor servers, and $13.15 for students under 18 working less than 28 hour per week while attending school;
  • Prince Edward Island: $12.25 for all workers but increasing to $12.85 on April 1, 2020;
  • Quebec: $12.50 for all workers but increasing to $13.10 on May 1, 2020 and $10.05 if gratuities are paid to the worker but increasing to $10.45 on May 1, 2020;
  • Saskatchewan: $11.32 for all workers.

Minimum Wage in Canada’s Territories

Canadian territories also set their own minimum wage rates. Most of the current minimum wage rates in these territories are higher than the minimum wages set in many U.S. states. The following minimum wages are based on one working hour.

  • Northwest Territories: $13.46 for all workers;
  • Nunavut: $13 for all workers but increasing to $16 on April 1, 2020;
  • Yukon: $12.71 for all workers but increasing to $13.71 for all workers on April 1, 2020.

Does the Minimum Wage in Canada Differ for Any Workers?

When reviewing the minimum wages in provinces and territories, you may have noticed different rates for students under 18, experienced or inexperienced workers, and liquor servers. Some of these regions have designed different rates for students because they don’t work as many hours when school is in session.

Since liquor servers work for tips, some regions set their minimum wages lower than general workers in other industries. Nova Scotia sets different minimum wages for inexperienced and experienced workers. The province takes into account the years of experience that some workers have in the workforce and feels these workers should receive higher pay.

Minimum Wage in the United States vs. Canada

In most cases, Candian provinces and territories set higher minimum wage rates than most U.S. states. When you’re comparing minimum wage between the two countries, there are several other differences to take into account.

Who Qualifies for National Healthcare or Health Insurance in Canada?

While many Canadian companies offer private health insurance plans to their employees, all Candian permanent citizens qualify for national healthcare. Each province or territory may set its own standards for determining who qualifies as a permanent citizen. Eligible residents may utilize the national healthcare system regardless of the salary they earn or the hours they work per week.

In the U.S., there is no universal healthcare. Most large employers offer health insurance plans employees may purchase but in some cases, workers must obtain health insurance independently. U.S. residents who can’t afford health insurance may face costly medical expenses.

What’s a Living Wage in Canada?

Similar to the U.S., the cost of living in Canada depends on your location. The minimum wage ensures workers can afford basic necessities, such as a car, food, and a home. Since the living wage varies by location, provinces and territories analyze inflation, taxes, expenses, and other factors when setting the minimum wage.

If you’re considering a move to Canada, review the minimum wages in your corresponding province or territory. Keep in mind, the wage that applies to your situation may vary depending on your age, experience level, and industry.


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