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Upcoming minimum wage increases

Several jurisdictions in Canada are increasing their minimum wages starting September 1, 2011.

What is the minimum wage?

Minimum wages impose a standard on employers that guarantees a minimum level of pay for employees. Thus, a minimum wage is the lowest rate an employer can pay employees who are covered by employment/labour standards legislation, regardless of how remuneration is calculated (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, commission, fixed salary or on a piecework basis).

Although general minimum wage rates in every Canadian jurisdiction apply to most workers, some categories of employees are specifically excluded from minimum wage provisions in the relevant Employment/Labour Standards legislation or regulations. Some employees are also covered by an alternative minimum wage rate.

Minimum wages are also designed to prevent workers from undercutting each other by agreeing to work for less than someone else. They also serve as benchmarks for many more employees who are paid above the minimum wage; in general, they also see their wages rise when the minimum wage increases.

To maintain its relevance in changing economic and social conditions, and based on the consumer price index, the minimum wage varies in each jurisdiction in Canada, and is adjusted in any month of the year depending on the jurisdiction. As for federally regulated employees covered by Part III of the Canada Labour Code, the applicable provincially or territorial legislated minimum wage rate for workers applies, although the governor in council may fix another rate.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has a good overview on the historical background of the minimum wage in Canada.


Current and forthcoming minimum wage rates for workers in Canada are as follows:

Minimum wages across Canada



Special or other rates

Effective date

Upcoming changes



$352 per week for specified salespersons and professionals

$1677 monthly for domestic employees

April 1, 2009

Effective Sept. 1, 2011: General minimum wage: $9.40 per hour. New minimum wage of $9.05 per hour for liquor servers. Specified salespersons and professions: $376 a week. A domestic employee: $1791 per month.

Newfoundland and Labrador


Overtime wage rate is $15 per hour

July 1, 2010

New Brunswick


Overtime rate is $14.25 per hour

$418 per week for employees whose weekly hours of work are unverifiable and who are not strictly employed on a commission basis

April 1, 2011

Planned minimum wage increase was set for Sept. 1, 2011, but delayed until April 1, 2012: $10 per hour.

As a result, the current minimum wage of $9.50 will remain in effect until the revised date of April 1, 2012. Overtime rate remains $14.25 per hour

Nova Scotia

$9.65, Experienced employees

$9.15, Inexperienced employees (less than three months)

October 1, 2010

Effective October 1, 2011, minimum wage increasing to $10.00 per hour. The minimum wage for inexperienced workers to $9.50.



Minimum call-out pay, $27.75

May 1, 2009

Effective September 1, 2011, minimum wage increases to $9.50 per hour. The call-out pay to $28.50.

Prince Edward Island


October 1, 2010

Minimum wage increases: 1. $9.60 per hour effective October 1, 2011; 2. $10.00 per hour effective April 1, 2012.



If employees are not paid an hourly rate or on piece work, then their minimum wage is eight hours multiplied by $9.00 or $72.00 for each day or part day worked

For piece workers or persons paid a commission, the minimum wage is calculated by multiplying the standard hours worked in a pay period by the minimum wage. For example, the minimum wage for an employee who works 72 hours in a two-week period is $648 (72 hours x $9).

April 1, 2011

On April 1 of each year, this rate increases by an amount corresponding to the annual increase for the preceding year in the Consumer Price Index for the city of Whitehorse.



October 1, 2010

Effective October 1, 2011: minimum wage increases to $10 per hour.


$10.25 for employees 18 years of age and over

$9.60 per hour for employees under 18 years of age and hours less than 28/weeks

$8.90 per hour for liquor servers

March 31, 2010



$8.35 per hour for liquor servers or employees who usually receive gratuities and tips

$9.65 per hour for clothing industry workers

May 1, 2011

The rate for agricultural workers who harvest strawberries or raspberries will increase to $0.75 per kilogram, for strawberries, and $2.84 per kilogram, for raspberries.

British Columbia


$8.50 per hour for liquor servers

May 1, 2011

Effective November 1, 2011: general minimum wage increases to $9.50 per hour; May 1, 2012, to $10.25 per hour. Wage for liquor servers increases to $8.75 per hour on November 1, 2011, and to $9.00 per hour on May 1, 2012 .

Northwest Territories


April 1, 2011



January 1, 2011

Who earns minimum wage?

According to Statistics Canada, in 2008 (latest available stats), for someone working full-time, that means an annual income of around $17,000. Women accounted for 60 percent of workers who earned a minimum wage. About 35 percent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 worked for minimum wage. Twenty-nine percent of minimum wage workers fell between the ages of 25 to 54. People who did not complete high school were five times more likely than those with some postsecondary training to earn minimum wage or less. Nine per cent of workers who received a minimum wage belonged to a union or were covered by a collective agreement.

Why increase the minimum wage?

The minimum wage is no longer a living wage… who can live or raise a family on $17,000 a year!

The minimum wage increase boost a stagnant economy, improves the standard of living among low-wage earners and increases the earning power of all marginal workers.

However, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says higher minimum wages cost jobs for young and unskilled workers. “It is estimated that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage results in a 2.5 percent decline in employment,” the Chamber said in a 2005 paper calling for changes to the Canada Labour Code. The Chamber also cited research that associated high minimum wage rates with higher school dropout rates, as teenagers are persuaded to leave school.

What do you think, is it a good thing or a bad thing to raise the minimum wage?

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Inc. Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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