Minimum Wage In Canada 2021

Most employees must be paid a minimum amount per hour for their work, although there are exceptions. This amount is known as the minimum wage. The minimum wage is different in each province and territory in Canada.

What Is A Minimum Wage?

A minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage rate that an employer can legally pay its employees. There are some exceptions in most provinces and territories, but most hourly employees make at least the minimum wage in the province or territory where they work.

The primary goals of the minimum wage are to reduce poverty and address income inequality, but whether you can live on the minimum wage is up for debate.

Minimum Wage In Canada By Province

As of January 22nd, 2021, the minimum wage in Canada for each province and territory was:

Province / TerritoryMinimum Hourly Wage (2021)Minimum Hourly Wage (2020)
Alberta$15.00$15.00
British Columbia$14.60$13.85
Manitoba$11.90$11.65
New Brunswick$11.70$11.50
Newfoundland and Labrador$12.15$11.65
Northwest Territories$13.46$13.46
Nova Scotia$12.55$11.55
Nunavut$16.00$13.00
Ontario$14.25$14.00
Prince Edward Island$12.85$12.25
Quebec$13.10$12.50
Saskatchewan$11.45$11.32
Yukon$13.71$12.71

Minimum Wage Exceptions 

Although most employees are required to earn at least the minimum wage in the province or territory where they work, there are exceptions. Only those paid hourly are included in this list. In many places, some employees, like live-in home support workers, are paid a daily or monthly rate. Some occupations are paid a higher minimum wage than the general minimum wage.

Minimum Wage Quebec

  • In Quebec, employees who receive tips, such as restaurant staff, are paid $10.45 per hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $13.10.

Minimum Wage Ontario

  • Students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session, or work during a school break or summer holidays, make $13.40 per hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $14.25.
  • Liquor servers earn $12.45 per hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $14.25.

Minimum Wage Manitoba

  • Domestic workers who work less than 12 hours a week can legally earn less than the minimum wage in Manitoba.
  • Those enrolled in an approved provincial or federal training program can legally earn less than the minimum wage.
  • All elections officials can legally earn less than the minimum wage.

Minimum Wage British Columbia

  • Liquor servers are paid $13.95 per hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $14.60.

Minimum Wage Alberta

  • Students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session, or work during a school break or summer holidays, make a minimum of $13.00 per hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $15.00.
  • Salespeople must earn a minimum of $598 per week ($14.95 per hour based on a 40-hour workweek) instead of the general minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.

Minimum Wage Nova Scotia

These types of workers may earn less or more than the minimum wage. For a more detailed explanation of minimum wage in Nova Scotia, please visit this website.

  • Certain farm employees
  • Apprentices working under the terms of an apprenticeship agreement
  • Anyone enrolled in a government-sponsored and government-approved training program
  • Anyone working at a non-profit playground or summer camp
  • Real estate and car salespeople
  • Freelance travelling salespeople
  • Licensed insurance agents
  • Anyone working on a fishing boat
  • Certain employees in the logging, forestry, construction, and property maintenance industries
  • Domestic workers caring for an immediate family member in a private home
  • Domestic workers working 24 hours a week or less
  • Athletes performing athletic activities

Minimum Wage Saskatchewan

  • Care providers that do not live in the employer’s home are exempt from minimum wage requirements.
  • Babysitters are not covered by minimum wage standards and must negotiate their pay.

Minimum Wage New Brunswick

  • Counsellors and program staff at residential summer camps are paid less than the minimum wage.
  • Flag persons in government construction work earn $10.37 an hour in 2021 instead of the general minimum wage of $11.70 an hour.

Minimum Wage Newfoundland And Labrador

All employees earn at least the minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador. As of April 01, 2021, the minimum wage in Newfoundland will be $11.65. On October 01, 2021, it will increase by 25 cents to $11.85. 

Minimum Wage Prince Edward Island

All employees earn at least the minimum wage in Prince Edward Island. However, employers that provide boarding and lodging to their employees can deduct a certain amount per week from their employees’ paycheque. As of April 01, 2021, employers can deduct $49.50 per week for boarding, $27.50 per week for lodging, and $61.60 per week for both boarding and lodging. They can also deduct $4.25 per meal provided. 

Minimum Wage Nunavut

All employees earn at least the minimum wage in Nunavut. However, employers that provide boarding or lodging can deduct a certain amount from your pay. 

Minimum Wage Northwest Territories and Yukon

All employees earn at least the minimum wage in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. 

Income Deduction And Minimum Wage

Several costs besides those required by law (e.g. income tax) can be deducted from your paycheque, depending on the jurisdiction in which you work:

  • Board and lodging
  • Cost of tools
  • Cost of courses and training
  • Pay advances
  • Garnishments
  • Court-ordered maintenance payments

Keep in mind that some costs, such as uniforms required for work, cannot be deducted from your paycheque.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an employer pay me less than minimum wage?

No, your employer cannot pay you less than the minimum wage in your province. However,  there are exceptions to the rule. 

Which province or territory has the highest minimum wage?

Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada at $16.00 per hour.

Can you live off of minimum wage in Canada?

This question is highly debated. It depends on the area you live in. If you work 40 hours per week, you would earn less than the basic standard of living cost in most large cities like Vancouver and Toronto. You could get by in most other areas of the country, such as Winnipeg and almost anywhere in Quebec. In the territories, the basic standard of living cost is much higher. For Inuvik, Northwest Territories, for example, the living wage was $24.75 per hour in 2019. The Territory’s minimum wage is $13.46 per hour in 2021.

Bottom Line

Although there are exceptions, most employees paid by the hour are legally entitled to a minimum level of compensation in every province and territory in Canada. This minimum wage varies across Canada. Some costs can be taken off your paycheque, regardless of whether it puts your hourly pay under the minimum wage. Whether you can live on the minimum wage in Canada is up for debate, but it seems you can have the most basic standard of living in most places across Canada with the minimum wage.

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