How to Make Money » Income

What Is the Minimum Wage In Canada In 2022? Get to Know the Minimum Pay Rates Across Canada

What Is the Minimum Wage In Canada In 2022? Get to Know the Minimum Pay Rates Across Canada

Minimum wage rates changed in several Canadian provinces in 2021. In this article, I’ll give everything you need to know about minimum wage in Canada, including some of the history. I’ll let you know where rates stand today, including any planned increases in the near future. Ready? Let’s get started!

How Does Minimum Wage Work?

In Canada, each province and territory sets its own minimum wage, or the lowest hourly wage an employer can legally pay its employees. With some exceptions (more on that later), the vast majority of Canadian workers earn at least minimum wage for the province (or territory) in which they are employed.

A History of Minimum Wage In Canada

Some form of the minimum wage has been around for centuries. Since the industrial revolution, however, the move towards minimum wage became a way to improve labour standards and prevent worker exploitation sweatshops around the world.

The Canadian Constitution sets out minimum wage as the responsibility of each province, within its labour laws. Canada’s three territories are also protected under federal government legislation.

The minimum wage in Canada was first established in the early 1900s, with the primary purpose to protect women and children labourers. The first provinces to introduce minimum wage legislation were British Columbia and Manitoba, in 2018. Four more provinces (Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia) came on board two years later, in 1920. PEI was the last province to enact a minimum wage, in 1960.

The Canadian Constitution sets out minimum wage as the responsibility of each province, within its labour laws. Canada’s three territories are also protected under federal government legislation.

Minimum Wage Rate Exemptions

Most provinces have some exemptions to the minimum pay for certain jobs. For example, in British Columbia, where the minimum wage is $14.60 per hour, liquor servers are paid $13.95 per hour (2021). The rationale is that servers in licensed restaurants make a large portion of their income of tips. In a sense, they aren’t really minimum wage workers.

Often, where there is a minimum wage exemption, the pay can be negotiated between the employee and employer, such as babysitting. I cover all minimum wage exceptions in my province-by-province breakdown below.

2021 Minimum Wage In Canada by Province

Here is a glance at current minimum wage rates across Canada in 2021. As you can see, minimum wage rates range between $11.45 per hour and $16.00 per hour, with Saskatchewan being the lowest and Nunavut being the highest.

Minimum Wage At-A-Glance

Province/TerritoryMinimum Wage (2021)
British Columbia$15.20 per hour
Alberta $15.00 per hour
Saskatchewan$11.81 per hour

Manitoba$11.95 per hour
Ontario$14.35 per hour
Quebec $13.50 per hour
New Brunswick$11.75 per hour
Nova Scotia$12.95 per hour
PEI$13.00 per hour
Newfoundland and Labrador$12.50 per hour
Yukon$15.20 per hour
Northwest Territories$15.20 per hour
Nunavut$16.00 per hour

British Columbia

Capital: Victoria

Largest city: Vancouver

Minimum wage (2021): $15.20

Economic Snapshot: British Columbia is Canada’s third most populated province, with just over 5.2 million people in the 3rd quarter of 2021. The current unemployment rate is 5.9%, which is lower than the national rate of 6.9%. Given the price of houses in BC, it should come as no surprise that the most prominent industries are real estate, rental, and leasing, along with construction. Combined, they make up approximately 30% of the province’s GDP.

British Columbia Minimum Wage 2021

BC increased its minimum wage in June 2021 to $15.20 per hour, up from the previous $14.60 per hour. They also removed the exemption for liquor servers, who now have to be paid the regular minimum wage. Previously, employers could pay liquor servers a lesser rate of $13.95 per hour. Changes in the Consumer Price Index factor into the minimum rate.

Minimum Wage Exemptions: Live-in Camp Leaders, domestic workers, and resident caretakers are exempt from being paid at provincial minimum wage, earning a minimum daily rate instead.

Historical British Columbia Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for British Columbia, dating back ten years:

  • Jun 2021: $15.20
  • Jun 2020: $14.60
  • Jun 2019: $13.85
  • Jun 2018: $12.65
  • Sep 2017: $11.35
  • Sep 2016: $10.85
  • Sep 2015: $10.45
  • May 2012: $10.25
  • Nov 2011: $9.50
  • May 2011: $8.75

Alberta

Capital: Edmonton

Largest city: Calgary

Minimum wage (2021): $15.00 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Canada’s 4th most populous province is well-known for its energy industry, which has long been the driver of economic growth in the province. This includes the Alberta oilsands.

The industry has seen its share of struggles in recent years, contributing to an unusually high unemployment rate (8.1% in Sep 2021) and an 8.2% drop in annual GDP, which was $307B in 2020. However, the picture looks a lot better than it did in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic added to the province’s economic woes.

Alberta Minimum Wage 2021

Alberta’s minimum wage has been at $15.00 per hour since 2018, after the previous government implemented a series of significant increases. Although it’s remained unchanged since it’s still one of the highest in Canada.

Minimum Wage Exemptions: Students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours per week or less can be paid a minimum of $13.00 per hour. For salespeople, the minimum earnings is $598 per week, which works out to $14.95 per hour based on 40 hours per week. For more information, check out the Alberta Government’s minimum wage rules.

Historical Alberta Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Alberta, dating back ten years:

  • Oct 2018: $15.00
  • Oct 2017: $13.60
  • Oct 2016: $12.20
  • Oct 2015: $11.20
  • Sep 2014: $10.20
  • Sep 2013: $9.95
  • Sep 2012: $9.75
  • Sep 2011: $9.40

Saskatchewan

Capital: Regina

Largest city: Saskatoon

Minimum wage (2021): $11.81 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Like most Canadian provinces, Saskatchewan is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Their agriculture, potash, oil, uranium, and other mineral industries rival many nations. Much like Alberta, a steep decline in oil prices, as well as reduced demand, have put a strain on economic growth in recent years, but long-term, Saskatchewan’s fundamentals remain sound. The current unemployment rate is 7%, which is close to the national rate.

Saskatchewan Minimum Wage 2021

Saskatchewan increased its minimum wage to $11.81 per hour, from $11.45, on October 1, 2021, making it among the most recent Canadian provinces to lift its minimum wage rate. According to the provincial government, “every year Saskatchewan’s minimum wage is calculated using an indexation formula that gives equal weight to changes to the Consumer Price Index and Average Hourly Wage for Saskatchewan.”

Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Exemptions: Care providers not residing in the same home as their employer are exempt from minimum wage requirements. This includes babysitters and other domestic workers.

Historical Saskatchewan Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Saskatchewan, dating back ten years:

  • Oct 2021: $11.81
  • Oct 2020: $11.45
  • Oct 2019: $11.32
  • Oct 2018: $11.06
  • Oct 2017: $10.96
  • Oct 2016: $10.72
  • Oct 2015: $10.50
  • Oct 2014: $10.20
  • Dec 2012: $10.00
  • Sep 2011: $9.50

Manitoba

Capital/Largest city: Winnipeg

Minimum wage (2021): $11.95 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Manitoba prides itself on its diverse and resilient economy, which is driven by strong trade and manufacturing sectors, as well as construction, transportation, and agriculture. Manitoba doesn’t experience the boom periods like energy-rich Alberta, but they rarely suffer from the busts. As with every other part of Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the Manitoba economy. Their current unemployment rate of 7.1% is close to the national average.

Manitoba Minimum Wage 2021

Like Saskatchewan, Manitoba increased its minimum wage on October 1, 2021, up five cents to $11.95 per hour. Manitoba ties Increases in its minimum wage to the province’s Consumer Price Index.

Manitoba Minimum Wage Exemptions: Domestic workers (someone who works inside their employer’s home) working less than 12 hours per week can earn under minimum wage (negotiated). Elections officials can also be paid less than minimum wage.

Historical Manitoba Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Manitoba, dating back ten years:

  • Oct 2021: $11.95
  • Oct 2020: $11.90
  • Oct 2019: $11.65
  • Oct 2018: $11.35
  • Oct 2017: $11.15
  • Oct 2015: $11.00
  • Oct 2014: $10.70
  • Oct 2013: $10.45
  • Oct 2012: $10.25
  • Oct 2011: $10.00

Ontario

Capital/Largest city: Toronto

Minimum wage (2021): $14.35 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, with more than 14.7 million residents, as of August 2021. It drives the largest share of the Canadian economy amongst the provinces, at close to 40%. While Ontario’s economy is diverse, it relies on the strength of its auto manufacturing and parts industry. In July 2021, the Ontario unemployment rate was 7.5%, down from 9.4% at the beginning of the year.

Ontario Minimum Wage 2021

The province of Ontario increased its minimum wage on October 1, 2021, albeit by a small amount of $.10 per hour. Increases are in line with the Ontario Consumer Price Index. Increases in the exemption rates for students and liquor servers also increased by the same amount.

Ontario Minimum Wage Exemptions: Students under 18 who work 28 hours or less during school, or work during a school break i.e., Christmas break, summer holidays, can be paid $13.50 per hour. Also, liquor servers are paid a minimum wage rate of $12.55 per hour. Check out Ontario’s Employment Standards Guide for more information on minimum wage exemptions.

Historical Ontario Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Ontario, dating back 10 years:

  • Oct 2021: $14.35
  • Oct 2020: $14.25
  • Oct 2018: $14.00
  • Oct 2017: $11.60
  • Oct 2016: $11.40
  • Oct 2015: $11.25
  • Jun 2014: $11.00
  • Mar 2010: $10.25

Quebec

Capital: Quebec City

Largest City: Montreal

Minimum Wage (2021): $13.50 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Like Ontario, the Province of Quebec boasts a robust manufacturing sector. It holds over 8.5 million residents and is the second-largest economy in the country. In 2021, Quebec is rebounding from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with The Conference Board of Canada projecting real GDP growth of 6.8% and “the unemployment rate falling to 5.7% by the end of the year.”

Quebec Minimum Wage 2021

Quebec increased its minimum wage to $13.50 per hour on May 1, 2021, up from $13.10 per hour previously. In the past two years, the Quebec minimum wage has increased by $1 per hour. Workers who earn tips, like liquor servers in restaurants, saw an increase to $10.80 per hour.

Quebec Minimum Wage Exemptions: Tips-based employees, like restaurant servers, can be paid a minimum wage rate of $10.80 per hour.

Historical Quebec Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Quebec, dating back 10 years:

  • May 2021: $13.50
  • May 2020: $13.10
  • May 2019: $12.50
  • May 2018: $12.00
  • May 2017: $11.25
  • May 2016: $10.75
  • May 2015: $10.55
  • May 2014: $10.35
  • May 2013: $10.15
  • May 2012: $9.90
  • May 2011: $9.65

New Brunswick

Capital: Fredericton

Largest city: Moncton

Minimum wage (2021): $11.75 per hour

Economic Snapshot: New Brunswick is the second-largest Atlantic province by population, after Nova Scotia, with more than 640,000 people 15 and over (working age.) The economy relies on the strength of its forestry, mining, and fishing sectors. Growth in New Brunswick’s Consumer Price Index slowed in 2020 but is forecast to rebound modestly in 2021. The unemployment rate is higher than the national average, at 9.30% (Sep 2021).

New Brunswick Minimum Wage 2021

New Brunswick’s minimum wage rates are indexed to their Consumer Price Index. For 2021, the rate was increased only slightly, from $11.70 per hour to $11.75 per hour. This reflected very slow growth in the economy in 2021.

New Brunswick Minimum Wage Exemptions: Summer camp staff can earn less than minimum wage. Some government construction workers can be paid a minimum of $10.37 per hour.

Historical New Brunswick Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for New Brunswick, dating back 10 years:

  • Apr 2021: $11.75
  • Apr 2020: $11.70
  • Apr 2019: $11.50
  • Apr 2018: $11.25
  • Apr 2017: $11.00
  • Apr 2016: $10.65
  • Dec 2014: $10.30
  • Apr 2012: $10.00
  • Apr 2011: $9.50

Prince Edward Island

Capital/Largest city: Charlottetown

Minimum wage (2021): $13.00 per hour

Economic Snapshot: At only 160,000 residents, Prince Edward Island is Canada’s least populated province. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the province essentially shut itself off from the rest of the country, save for Atlantic Canada.

While this spared the island province from severe outbreaks, it took a toll on the tourism industry, central to the Prince Edward Island economy. The unemployment rate is currently 10.6%, but look for that to decline in 2022 as the province reopens and workers return.

Prince Edward Island Minimum Wage 2021

The PEI minimum wage follows something called the Minimum Wage Order. It increased to $13.00 per hour in April of 2021, a slight increase of $.15 per hour. The government considers the national Consumer Price Index and the PEI Consumer Price Index when setting the minimum wage.

Prince Edward Island Minimum Wage Exemptions: While employers must pay all PEI workers at least minimum wage, if you’re an employer who provides room and board to an employee, you can recuperate between $27.50 and $61.60 per week from your employee’s paycheque. You can also deduct Meals at $4.25 each.

Historical PEI Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Prince Edward Island, dating back 10 years:

  • Apr 2021: $13.00
  • Apr 2020: $12.85
  • Apr 2019: $12.25
  • Apr 2018: $11.55
  • Apr 2017: $11.25
  • Oct 2016: $11.00
  • Jun 2016: $10.75
  • Jul 2015: $10.50
  • Oct 2014: $10.35
  • Jun 2014: $10.20
  • Apr 2012: $10.00
  • Oct 2011: $9.60
  • Jun 2011: $9.30

Nova Scotia

Capital/Largest city: Halifax

Minimum wage (2021): $12.95 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Nova Scotia is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada and is also home to the largest city, Halifax. The province has a current unemployment rate of 8.4%, above the national rate but lower than other Atlantic jurisdictions. TD Economics projects Nova Scotia to lead Atlantic Canada with estimated Real GDP growth of 4.2% in 2021. The construction and finance, insurance, and real estate industries are expected to lead the way.

Nova Scotia Minimum Wage 2021

Workers in “Canada’s Ocean Playground” saw an increase in the minimum wage to $12.95 per hour in April of 2021. Unlike other Canadian provinces, it was a significant raise of $.40 an hour higher than the previous rate. As with other provinces, the minimum wage follows the growth of the consumer price index in an attempt to keep up with the cost of living.

Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Exemptions: The following types of employees can be paid less than minimum wage: farmworkers, apprentices, summer camp staff, real estate agents, car salespeople, licensed insurance agents, some domestic workers, some employees in the fishing, logging, forestry, property maintenance, and construction industries, some athletes.

Historical Nova Scotia Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Nova Scotia, dating back ten years:

  • Apr 2021: $12.95
  • Apr 2020: $12.55
  • Apr 2019: $11.55
  • Apr 2018: $11.00
  • Apr 2017: $10.85
  • Apr 2016: $10.70
  • Apr 2015: $10.60
  • Apr 2014: $10.40
  • Apr 2013: $10.30
  • Apr 2012: $10.15
  • Oct 2011: $10.00

Newfoundland and Labrador

Capital/Largest city: St. John’s

Minimum wage (2021): $12.50 per hour

Economic Snapshot: Canada’s easternmost province has a population of 521,000. Its top industries are mining, manufacturing, fishing, pulp and paper, and hydroelectricity. The unemployment rate was 11.7% in August 2021 – currently the highest rate in Canada, but down half a percent year over year.

Newfoundland and Labrador Minimum Wage 2021

Newfoundland and Labrador increased its minimum wage to $12.50 in April 2021, up from a previous $12.15 per hour rate. Unlike many other provinces, Newfoundland does not have any exemptions for its minimum rate.

Newfoundland and Labrador Minimum Wage Exemptions: No exemptions.

Historical Newfoundland and Labrador Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Newfoundland and Labrador, dating back ten years:

  • Apr 2021: $12.50
  • Oct 2020: $12.15
  • Apr 2020: $11.65
  • Apr 2019: $11.40
  • Apr 2018: $11.15
  • Oct 2017: $11.00
  • Apr 2017: $10.75
  • Oct 2015: $10.50
  • Oct 2014: $10.25
  • Jul 2010: $10.00

Canada’s Territories

In addition to ten provinces, Canada has three territories located in the northernmost regions of the country: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. The primary industries in the territories include mining, oil and gas exploration, fishing and hunting, and tourism. The minimum wages across the territories tend to be the highest in Canada, due to the high cost of living in the most remote region of the country.

Yukon Territory

Capital/Largest city: Whitehorse

Minimum wage (2021): $15.20 per hour

Yukon Territory Minimum Wage 2021

Minimum wage employees in the Yukon saw a significant increase in their pay rates in 2021. In August, the government increased the rate to $15.20 per hour, way up from the previous $13.85 an hour.

Yukon Minimum Wage Exemptions: There are no exemptions. All workers earn the same minimum wage.

Historical Yukon Territory Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Yukon Territory, dating back ten years:

  • Aug 2021: $15.20
  • Apr 2021: $13.85
  • Apr 2020: $13.71
  • Apr 2019: $12.71
  • Apr 2018: $11.51
  • Apr 2017: $11.32
  • Apr 2016: $11.07
  • Apr 2015: $10.86
  • Apr 2014: $10.72
  • Apr 2013: $10.54
  • May 2012: $10.30
  • Apr 2012: $9.27
  • Apr 2011: $9.00

Northwest Territories

Capital/Largest city: Yellowknife

Minimum wage (2021): $15.20

Northwest Territories Minimum Wage 2021

Minimum wage workers in the Northwest Territories saw an even more significant increase than their Yukon counterparts in 2021, with the minimum wage moving to $15.20 from $13.46 per hour, an increase of $1.74.

Northwest Territories Minimum Wage Exemptions: There are no exemptions. All workers earn the same minimum wage.

Historical Northwest Territories Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Yukon Territory, dating back 11 years:

  • Sep 2021: $15.20
  • Apr 2018: $13.46
  • Jun 2015: $12.50
  • Apr 2011: $10.00
  • Apr 2010: $9.00

Nunavut

Capital/Largest city: Iqaluit

Minimum wage (2021): $16.00 per hour (highest in Canada)

Nunavut Minimum Wage 2021

Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, currently has the highest minimum wage in the country: $16.00 an hour. The government, located in the town of Iqaluit, doesn’t adjust the rate often – there have only been three increases since 2011 – the cost of living ensures that the rates stay among the highest in the country.

Nunavut: No exemptions, but like Prince Edward Island, employers who provide room and board can deduct from an employee’s pay.

Historical Nunavut Minimum Wage

Here is the minimum wage history for Nunavut:

  • Apr 2020: $16.00
  • Mar 2016: $13.00
  • Jan 2011: $11.00

Final Thoughts on Minimum Wage In Canada

When comparing wages across Canada, it’s important to note that no minimum wage can be considered high. Many of the lowest-paid Canadians struggle to earn a living wage, regardless of where they live in the country.

However, the subject of minimum wage is a controversial one because of the many social and economic considerations at play. No matter where you stand on issues like minimum wage, or universal basic income, it’s crucial that Canadians continue to look out for each other and work to find ways to improve the economic prospects of our fellow citizens.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*