Four Canadian provinces and one Territory have announced increases to their minimum wage rates for 2014:
- Nova Scotia (from $10.30 to $10.40 on April 1, 2014)
- Yukon Territory (from $10.54 to $10.72 on April 1, 2014)
- Quebec (from $10.15 to $10.35 on May 1, 2014)
- Ontario (from $10.25 to $11.00 per hour on June 1, 2014)
- Newfoundland and Labrador (from $10.00 to $10.25 on October 1, 2014)
When Ontario’s minimum wage increases to $11.00 per hour, it will be tied with Nunavut Territory for the highest minimum wage in Canada. Alberta has the lowest, at $9.95 per hour. Alberta is followed closely by Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories at $10.00 per hour.
The chart below sets out the minimum wage in the various provinces and territories in Canada, including announced increases through to the end of 2014.
* Increases have been announced which will take effect in 2014.
Labour and community groups have worked hard to keep minimum wage issues in the news. In March 2013, a coalition of Ontario labour and community organizations launched its Raise the Minimum Wage campaign to raise the minimum wage to $14.00 per hour. The campaign involved petitions to Premier Kathleen Wynne, rallies, and a coordinated media and social media strategy. In October 2013, the Wellesley Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank which describes itself as a “non-profit and non-partisan research and policy institute that focuses on finding solutions to problems of urban health disparities,” published a report which called for an increase in the minimum wage as a means to “mitigate income inequality.” More recently, in B.C., labour leaders met with Premier Christy Clark to demand an immediate increase from $10.25 to $13.00 per hour.
In the meantime, there is still considerable debate regarding whether raising the minimum wage would help alleviate poverty or make things worse by causing job loss. This is a longstanding debate with no resolution in sight.
In January 2014, the advisory panel appointed by the Ontario Government to give advice on the province’s minimum wage issued its final report. The panel, chaired by Professor Anil Verma, recommended measures aimed at making future increases to the minimum wage more predictable and removing decisions regarding future increases from the political process.
Shortly after the issuance of the report, the Ontario Government announced the 2014 minimu wage increase, the first such increase since 2010. It also stated its intention to introduce legislation that would tie future minimum wage increases to inflation and impose set timetables for the announcement and implementation of increases. This is similar to what Nova Scotia and the Yukon Territories already do. It remains to be seen whether or when such measures would be put in place, given the looming provincial election in Ontario.