2023 Minimum Wage in Canada: Province by Province (Highest to Lowest)October 23, 2023
Minimum wage rates are on the move in Canada. No less than eight provinces and territories have instituted minimum wage rate increases this year, with more set for rate bumps later in the fall. That’s welcome news for workers looking to see a little more income on their paycheques.
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What’s spurred this sudden movement from various provincial governments? Each province legislates its own minimum rate, and it’s not uncommon for those rates to sit idle for years. An example would be Ontario—Canada’s most populous province—where the rate didn’t budge from $10.25 for four years between 2010 and 2014.
The sweeping rate increases across Canada can be partially attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many “frontline workers,” as they were called, showed us the value they bring by working essential jobs during government-enforced lockdowns. Grocery store and hospitality staff, for example, proved essential during the pandemic—staffing the checkout aisles and restaurant take-out counters.
With rates in flux all over the country, we thought it would be a good time to survey the pay grade landscape and see where the peaks and valleys are for minimum wages in Canada.
Why is there a minimum wage?
The minimum wage is defined as the lowest hourly pay rate an employer can give you under law, regardless of whether you work part-time or full-time.
The history of the minimum wage in Canada goes back to the early 20th century when it was first established in British Columbia and Manitoba in 1918. Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Nova Scotia soon followed two years later. P.E.I. was the last province to enact minimum wage legislation, for both men and women, in 1960.
Historically, the minimum wage has acted as a protection for non-unionized workers, including women and children, from exploitation while creating incentives to work, addressing inequality, and raising the standard of living. Today, the minimum wage is supposed to keep pace with inflation, as well as average wage rates and other economic factors.
What is the federal minimum wage?
Influenced by the Consumer Price Index, the federal minimum wage in Canada is currently $16.65 per hour. The federal minimum wage applies to Canadians working in federally regulated sectors (banks, federal Crown corporations, postal services, etc.) However, if you work in a federally-regulated industry where the provincial minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, you’ll get a higher rate.
If you work in an industry that is not federally regulated, the provincial minimum wage applies to you, which is what we discuss below.
Minimum wage chart: a quick look
PEI$13.70Made effective April 1, 2022
|Province||Minimum Wage||Recent Changes|
|NU||$16.00||Made effective April 1, 2020|
|YT||$16.77||Made effective April 1, 2023|
|BC||$16.75||Made effective June 1, 2023|
|NWT||$16.05||Made effective on September 1, 2023|
|AB||$15.00||Made effective June 26, 2019|
|ON||$16.55||Made effective on October 1, 2023|
|QC||$15.25||Made effective on May 1, 2023|
|NS||$15.00||Made effective October 1, 2023|
|NL||$15.00||Made effective on October 1, 2023|
|NB||$14.75||Made effective April 1, 2023|
|MB||$15.30||Made effective on October 1, 2023|
|SK||$14.00||Made effective October 1, 202.|
The minimum wage by province or territory
Click your province or territory to learn more about the minimum wage in your region as of October 1, 2023:
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
- Prince Edward Island
- Nova Scotia
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- New Brunswick
What is the minimum wage in Nunavut?
The highest minimum wage in Canada can be found in the country’s largest territory – Nunavut. At $16 per hour, Nunavut is #1 on this table, but the impressive minimum wage might not be enough to convince someone to move to the snow-laden territory. The cost of goods is notably higher there. Imagine paying $7 for three bananas and $20 for one hamburger patty.
- Minimum wage legislation does not apply to trappers and individuals employed in commercial fisheries.
What is the minimum wage in Yukon?
Yukon follows a consumer price index in determining its minimum wage. On April 1 2023, the rate was increased to $16.77, which was a decent bump compared to the previous year. In 2021, the minimum wage was increased from $13.71 to $13.85, representing a 1% increase based on the 2020 Consumer Price Index for Whitehorse.
What is the minimum wage in British Columbia?
The western coastal province now has the highest minimum wage among the provinces after raising its rate to $16.75 on June 1, 2023. That marked a decent increase from the year prior. The BC government says raising the wage closer to $16 will help 400,000 residents.
Most agree raising the minimum wage in BC is crucial to managing the high cost of living, especially in the lower mainland. According to a 2021 study by the Fair Wages Commission, the average monthly income for one person living on minimum wage in BC was $1,967. However, the average cost of living was around $2,283 leaving a $316 deficit each month.
- Unlike most other provinces, employees in BC who serve liquor and earn tips are entitled to make the regular minimum wage of $16.75.
- Live-in-home support workers are paid a minimum daily rate of $113.50.
- Resident caretakers earn a minimum monthly rate based on the number of units. It can range from $3,194.43 per month to $937.82 per month for a building with 9 to 60 suites.
What is the minimum wage in the Northwest Territories?
The biggest of the three territories, the Northwest Territories’ minimum wage rate increased considerably in September 2021 from $13.46 to $16.05 — the second rate increase since 2018. The NWT government says the rate hike will strike a balance between fair wages and supporting small businesses.
What is the minimum wage in Alberta?
Alberta raised its minimum wage to $15 when the NDP was in power in 2018. At the time, it shocked many as it was by far the highest minimum wage in the country. The opposing party at the time, now the current government, said it would “kill jobs” and hurt the economy.
Surprisingly, that $15 minimum wage has remained in that perch as the highest in Canada until recently. The bad news, at least for some in Alberta, is that the $15 rate hasn’t budged since 2018. And with a UCP government still opposed to the NDP’s historic rate hike, it doesn’t look likely to get a boost anytime soon.
- Students who are under 18 years of age and work 28 hours or less per week are entitled to a minimum wage of $13.00.
- Salespersons are entitled to $598 per week.
- Domestic employees living in their employer’s home should earn $2,848 per month.
What is the minimum wage in Ontario?
Ontario has a population of over 14 million and a significant number of workers receiving minimum wage. If the province raises their wage, even by a small percentage, it can contribute greatly to a provincial economy that already has the largest GDP in the country.
Like many other provinces, Ontario now ties its minimum wage to a Price Index. If the index goes up, indicating a higher cost of goods and services, so should the wage rate. Ontario’s rate recently jumped to $16.55.
- Students who are under 18 and work 28 hours or less per week are entitled to a minimum wage of $14.10.
- Homeworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of $16.50.
What is the minimum wage in Quebec?
The province of Quebec announced a $0.75 raise (or 5.56% increase) to the minimum wage in May 2022. The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet said: “We must take into account the impact that the pandemic has had on many small and medium-sized businesses in Quebec, which have had to face extremely important issues in terms of maintaining or increasing their economic growth. It must also be important enough to encourage work.” It was then raised again to $15.25 in 2023.
But not everyone is pleased with the new $15.25 per hour rate. Some critics say it is still inadequate compared to the rising cost of living (the Consumer Price Index increased by 6.7% in the same period), and unlikely to change anyone’s financial situation significantly.
- Employees who make tips earn a minimum wage of $11.40 per hour (an increase of $0.60).
- Employees who pick raspberries or strawberries earn a minimum wage of $4.23 and $1.13 per kilogram.
What is the minimum wage in Prince Edward Island?
Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) has the highest minimum wage in the Maritimes region at $1500. The province raises it yearly based on a consumer price index. Though the minimum wage increased by $0.70 cents from $13.00 in 2022, it jumped only $0.15 from 2020 to 2021.
What is the minimum wage in Nova Scotia?
At $15.00, Nova Scotia has a slightly lower minimum wage than its neighbouring province of P.E.I. The province announced it will raise the minimum hourly wage to $13.60 before the end of the year and then to $15 by 2024.
- Real estate agents and car salespeople, as well as insurance agents, fishing employees, summer camp counsellors, some farmhands, and some domestic workers, are exempt from minimum wage eligibility in Nova Scotia
What is the minimum wage in Newfoundland & Labrador?
Newfoundland is right in the middle of the Maritimes pack with a $15.00 minimum wage, having jumped $0.45 in April 2022 and then another $1.20 in 2023.
- Overtime wage rates in Newfoundland do not apply to some farm employees
What is the minimum wage in New Brunswick?
New Brunswick has the inglorious distinction of having the lowest minimum wage in the Maritimes, and second lowest in Canada at $14.75.
What is the minimum wage in Manitoba?
If you were choosing where to live based on the minimum wage rate, you might want to give Manitoba a pass. Its minimum wage used to be the second lowest in Canada but has risen slightly to $15.30. The prairie province uses the same playbook as its western neighbour, setting annual increases according to a consumer price index with an inflation rate of around .05%.
In May 2021, the Manitoba government announced a slight rate increase of $0.05 which went into effect the following October. That small increase was welcome news to some businesses disinclined to pay more to employees and perhaps feeling the crunch of a year of COVID-mandated lockdowns. But others say it was uncaring to frontline workers during the pandemic, and the time has come to hit the $15 mark like other provinces, which they did as of October 1, 2023.
- Domestic workers who work less than 12 hours a week are not entitled to minimum wage.
- Minimum wages in the heavy construction sector vary depending on the job classification.
- Commission salespeople or flat rate mechanics, who earn incentives, must also get at least minimum wage in each pay period.
What is the minimum wage in Saskatchewan?
Its prairie scenery might be beautiful, but for those living in Saskatchewan on minimum wage, it’s not a pretty picture. Saskatchewan’s minimum wage was dead last in the country at $11.81, despite having the sixth-largest population in Canada (1.1+ million).
Like Ontario and other provinces, Saskatchewan ties its annual minimum wage increase to a price index, resulting in moderate increases of around $0.10. It was $11.32 in 2019, $11.06, and so on. The plus side to this scenario could be that lower price index implies a lower cost of living, which means a minimum paycheque can go further than in a province like BC. It’s just recently increased to $14.00 as of October 2023, and will rise again to $15.00 on October 1, 2024.
- Live-in care providers must earn the minimum wage for the first 8 hours of the day. Additional hours may be negotiated.
Minimum Wage in 2023
Since last year, Federal minimum wage has increased from $15.55 per hour to $16.65 per hour. This is a total of a 6.5% increase. While the increase isn’t enough to curb the cost of inflation, it’s still very helpful. That said though, let’s take a look at the provincial minimum wage rates.
Currently, minimum wage in BC is slightly higher than the provincial amount. It’s sitting at $16.75 per hour. Everyone is entitled to this but there are some jobs where the minimum wage is slightly different. One of these is to live as a camp leader. They get paid a daily rate so their minimum wage is $133.69. Live-in home support workers also make a daily rate so their minimum wage is $124.73. Residential caretakers make a monthly amount based on how many suites they’re looking after. The current minimum wage amount for them is $1002.53 per month plus $40.17 per suite.
With the recent increase in minimum wage, it’s now going to $16.55 in Ontario as of October 1, 2023. It’s currently sitting at $15.50.Howere, students under 18 years of age who work 28 hours a week or less will not have a minimum wage of $15.60. People who will from home will have their minimum wage go up to $18.20 per hour. The day wage will also increase for hunting, fishing and wilderness guides. It’s now $82.85 when working less than 5 consecutive hours, and $165.75 when working 5 or more hours.
In Manitoba, there are two wage increases for 2023. As of April 1, 2023, minimum wage rose to $14.15 per hour, and on October 1, 2023 it’ll rise again to $15.30 per hour,
Highest and Lowest Minimum Wages 2023
Since minimum wage in different Canadian provinces slightly differs, some places have higher rates than others. The place with the higher minimum wage rate is Nunavut, with $16.77. Since April of 2020, their minimum wage actually has been sitting at $16 which was also the highest of Canada. It only recently changed in April 2023.
The province in Canada with the lowest minimum wage is Saskatchewan. Their minimum wage is currently $13 per hour, but will rise to $14 per hour in October of 2023.It’s then predicted to go up again to $15 by October of 2024.