For workers in the town of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, getting a nearly $4.00/hr pay raise could be as simple as crossing the road!
The bi-provincial city split between Alberta and Saskatchewan is one of the more unique stories highlighting the minimum wage gaps in Canadian provinces. Provinces have managed Canada's minimum wage since 1996, with each one frequently updating its standards according to government regulations and economic developments.
In Saskatchewan, the current minimum is $11.45, while Alberta's is one of the highest at $15.00. Lloydminster residents can earn an extra $3.55/hr instantly by finding work in another part of town. The difference that a short drive can make for your wallet is pretty eye-opening!
Are you wondering how your province's minimum wage stacks up? We'll detail how governments determine the minimum wage, current rates, and where to move if you want a change of pace and a change of paycheque.
Canada Minimum Wage By Province
The hourly minimum wage is the lowest allowable pay rate for part-time and full-time employees. For over 100 years, Canadian governments have committed to a minimum wage to combat poverty and improve the standard of living for all citizens.
In 1996, the federal government handed the minimum wage responsibility over to provinces. Since then, provincial governments have grown further apart in the wages they set and the rules surrounding them.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Alberta?
Current Rate: $15.00/hr
Along with the highest average income, Alberta has one of the best minimum wages among provinces at $15.00, with only British Columbia having a higher rate.
The minimum wage started growing gradually in 2010, with increases of $0.20-$0.35 occurring each September. That changed in 2015 when more aggressive increases of $1.00-$1.40 started arriving every October. The last increase took place on October 1, 2018.
Like other provinces, Alberta has rules and exemptions to the $15.00 rate. As it currently stands, that rate is standard for any worker over the age of 18.
Students younger than 18 receive $13.00/hr for the first 28 hours of work each week. Pay rises to $15.00 for every hour of work after the initial 28 hours. Commission and incentive-based employees, such as salespeople, need to earn at least the minimum wage.
Employers can also deduct living expenses to a certain amount, although live-in domestic workers still need to earn at least $2,848 monthly. If employers provide room and board, they can deduct a maximum of $4.41/night and $3.55/meal.
What Is the Minimum Wage in British Columbia (BC)?
Current Rate: $15.20/hr
British Columbia may not have the largest GDP among provinces, but it's a leader in employment. It not only had the best job recovery following the shutdown, but it also boasts the highest minimum pay.
Minimum wage rates in BC undergo annual review, with modest raises happening year after year. In 2018, the government decided to dial up the wage increases. In just four years, the minimum wage raised from $11.35 in 2017 to the current $15.20 rate set on June 1, 2021.
Nearly all workers of all ages can earn the $15.20 minimum, including those earning commissions and incentives. But there are rules for certain live-in employees.
Live-in camp leaders and home support workers earn daily instead of hourly pay, at rates of $121.65/day and $113.50/day, respectively. Meanwhile, resident caretakers are paid based on the number of apartments that they manage. For them, each apartment adds $35.56 to their starting $912.28 monthly pay.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Manitoba?
Current Rate: $11.90/hr
The Manitoba government raises their minimum wage based on the Consumer Price Index, a measure to keep up with inflation.
The minimum wage in Manitoba has seen slow growth over the last decade compared to other provinces. In 2010, they had a higher rate than Alberta, but they now have the third-lowest pay. The next scheduled rate jump comes on October 1, when the minimum wage will increase to $11.95/hr.
Everyone qualifies for the minimum rate regardless of their age or how they get paid. However, domestic workers who work under 12 hours each week are excluded. This applies to employees in a government-approved training program and anyone working under The Elections Act, such as election officials.
Minimum wage standards are higher for certain employees, such as construction workers. The construction industry has its own rules for managing worker pay, and employees may earn several dollars more at an hourly minimum.
Security guards also enjoy special pay rates. Despite it being one of the dullest jobs, security workers can at least feel a little better with their $12.50 minimum wage.
What Is the Minimum Wage in New Brunswick (NB)?
Current Rate: $11.75/hr
New Brunswick has the second-lowest minimum wage in Canada. The current rate of $11.75 was established on April 1, 2021. Like Manitoba, the relative strength of the minimum wage in NB has gone down steadily since 2010.
Special minimum wages exist for summer camp staff and certain construction workers, particularly those on Crown Construction contracts. Summer camp counsellors and employees must earn at least $501.60 weekly, with no deductions for room and board.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)?
Current Rate: $12.50/hr
Newfoundland and Labrador raised their minimum wage to $12.50 on April 1, a part of their special bi-annual increases announced in 2020. Another review of the minimum wage in NL, which will bring a $0.25 increase, is set for October 1.
Overtime is set at 1.5x the hourly rate, which is similar to most provinces. However, many farm employees and livestock raisers are exempt. Similarly, live-in domestic workers and babysitters do not receive extra pay but rather paid time off for hours worked past the normal 40 each week.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia (NS)?
Current Rate: $12.95/hr
Nova Scotia undergoes a minimum wage update on April 1 each year. While they're decidedly middle-of-the-road in their hourly rate, they have some of the more unique rules around how employees get paid.
The minimum wage in NS is separated into three categories — general, construction and property management, and logging and forestry. Each order has its own minimum standards.
Unlike many other provinces, Nova Scotia doesn't demand that certain commission-based employees, such as salespeople and real estate agents, earn a minimum wage. Certain farm workers, domestic employees, and non-profit staff are also excluded.
Employers can also make deductions for living expenses, with a maximum weekly deduction of $68.20 for room and board. They can also deduct dry cleaning costs for uniforms made of wool or heavy materials.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Ontario?
Current Rate: $14.35/hr
Ontario is home to some of the largest and most beautiful cities in Canada, and its economy leads the country in GDP. At $14.25, its minimum wage is one of the best as well. The amount is reviewed annually, and a $0.10 bump is scheduled for October 1, 2021.
The province connects its wages to the Consumer Price Index. There are some notable exceptions to who qualifies for the minimum rate.
Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides earn $143.55 daily if they work more than five hours and $71.75 per day if they work less than five hours. Students under the age of 18 and liquor servers have lower hourly thresholds of $13.50 and $12.55, respectively. Homeworkers fall on the other side of the wage gap, enjoying a minimum wage of $15.80.
Employers can also deduct room and board up to a maximum of $85.25 each week.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Prince Edward Island (PEI)?
Current Rate: $13.00/hr
Prince Edward Island may have the smallest population and economy among Canadian provinces, but it keeps up when it comes to taking care of workers. The minimum wage in PEI was raised to $13.00 in April, and they employ one of the simplest policies.
The minimum wage applies to all employees in PEI. The only notable consideration is room and board, which employers charge on a per meal or per week basis. At most, an employer can deduct $61.60 per week if they provide both lodging and meals.
What is the Minimum Wage in Quebec?
Current Rate: $13.50/hr
Canada's largest province is home to some of the best places to live in the country. Quebec keeps its minimum wage rules simple, ensuring workers receive at least $13.50/hr regardless of age or industry.
There are a couple of interesting exceptions to the rule. Unlike other provinces that apply their minimum wage standards even for tip earners, Quebec has a reduced lower limit of $10.80/hr for these workers. Fruit pickers, meanwhile, are paid per kg of fruit they pick rather than an hourly rate, although they are protected if conditions limit how much they can pick.
Students working for non-profits and individuals in training are excluded from the minimum wage standards. Employers can also make deductions for room and board.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Saskatchewan?
Current Rate: $11.45/hr
Saskatchewan currently ranks dead last among Canadian provinces in terms of the minimum wage. But all that is set to change on October 1st, when it will increase wages by $0.36. This will raise the minimum to $11.81, just edging out New Brunswick's standard of $11.75.
There are a few exceptions to the minimum wage requirements. Key exemptions include farmers, gardeners, come-in caregivers (e.g. babysitters), and some non-profit workers.
Live-in caregivers and domestic workers are required to earn the minimum wage for at least eight hours of work per day. The maximum deduction is $250 for room and board.
Why Is the Minimum Wage Different Across Canada?
The Canada minimum wage was followed until 1996. By that time, the federal government rates were already much lower than provincial rates, and the minimum wage was effectively removed at a national level.
By turning control over to provincial governments, minimum wages could more accurately reflect the living standards and costs of provinces and territories.
Depending on where you live, you may need a higher minimum wage to cover the cost of housing, higher taxes, and other living expenses. And given the diverse economies among provinces, special rules allow provinces to be more responsive to the unique needs of workers and their industries.
Changes to Canada's Minimum Wage
The wage disparity between provinces will soon come to a close for thousands of workers. On December 29, the minimum wage will increase to $15.00/hr for employees in federally regulated private sectors, such as:
- Air, railway, marine, and road transportation
- Television and radio broadcasting
- Federal Crown corporations
If a province has a higher minimum wage in place, that will be the enforced standard. Currently, this rule only applies to BC. Any province with a rate below $15.00/hr will have to raise their minimum wage for qualifying employees.
Canada Minimum Wage vs the World
Until Canada institutes the minimum wage hike, it's hard to clarify how it ranks in the world. Luxembourg currently has the highest minimum wage in the world at $17.45/hr, followed by Australia, which has a national minimum of $15.37.
Canada's minimum wage currently takes up the tail end of the top 10 highest in the world. When the federal change to $15.00/hr rolls around in December, the official minimum wage will jump to number three on the list.
Top 10 Highest Minimum Wages in the World
In a top ten list dominated by European countries, Canada is the sole representative of the Americas. The following are the 10 highest minimum wages across the globe.
- Luxembourg ($17.45)
- Australia ($15.36)
- France ($14.76)
- New Zealand ($14.18)
- Germany ($13.76)
- Netherlands ($13.22)
- Belgium ($13.14)
- United Kingdom ($13.09)
- Ireland ($12.18)
- Canada ($12.05)
The rankings shift constantly as countries adjust policies and economic developments strengthen or weaken currencies. Although Canada is set to move up the list on December 29, we may be overtaken again when national governments revisit and increase wages next year.
How Does Your Province Compare?
Have we got you planning a move already? The Canada minimum wage change is an interesting development to follow, but that doesn't mean it's the most important part of Canadian life. Whether you want sweeping mountain vistas, busy city living, or just a refreshing change of culture, our provinces have so much more to offer than just an hourly rate.
No matter where you call home, you'll need insurance to keep you and your family protected from the unexpected. Start with a free quote from Insurdinary to find the perfect policies to match your goals!