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In order to ensure that workers get paid a fair wage, the government sets a legal minimum threshold which the employer must meet. Adjusting on a provincial and territorial basis, this is to account for the cost of living in the area.  As of 2019, 38,780 people reside in Nunavut, meaning the job market is challenging in this province. It only separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999. While it has grown since this time, it remains the least populated part of the country. 

Relative to other Canadian locations, Nunavut has a more restrictive supply chain due to geographical limitations. It also has less infrastructure and reduced opportunities for employment within the territorial economy. This raises the cost of goods, and thus the cost of living in Nunavut. As such, a minimum wage must make living affordable for everyone. 

Hourly Minimum Wage Rate In Nunavut

Due to the increase in the cost of living, as assessed by the Consumer Price Index, Nunavut saw a massive increase in its minimum wage on January 1, 2024. The minimum wage in Nunavut is $19.00 per hour.

Who Does It Apply To?

Any employee in the territory of Nunavut is required to receive the minimum wage of $19.00 per hour for all worked hours. There is no age restriction on the minimum wage, meaning it applies across the board, whether the worker is a student or of the age minority. 

While the minimum wage applies to the vast majority of positions, there are exemptions. This threshold does not apply to trappers or workers at commercial fisheries. If the worker is a student in certain professions, not regulated by the Act legislating the minimum wage, then the worker is exempt. 

In the case of fisheries and trapping, if an employer supplies lodging or board, they are entitled to deduct this from the amount paid. According to the Nunavut government website, sectors including traditional harvesting and fisheries constitute a substantial amount of the economic output of the territory. As such, the minimum wage doesn’t apply to a significant portion of the population. 

Federal Workers In Nunavut

If you’re a federal worker in Nunavut, you can receive the minimum wage set by the federal government ($16.65) for federal workers. However, if the territory’s minimum wage is higher, employers are required to pay that rate.

History Of The Hourly Minimum Wage Rate In Nunavut

Nunavut is a relatively new independent territory, so its history of minimum wage settings is relatively short. Additionally, since the cost of living across the country has increased at an accelerated rate since the turn of the century, the jumps in the minimum wage are noticeable. 

Date Minimum Wage Has Been In EffectHourly Minimum Wage 
March 3, 2003$8.50
September 5, 2008$10
January 1, 2011$11
March 2, 2016$13
January 1, 2020$16

Overtime Rate In Nunavut

Overtime is determined by a daily and weekly maximum of hours worked. Each day, the employee is entitled to overtime if the time worked exceeds eight hours. The threshold for the week is 40 hours. These are deemed standard work hours and, if they are exceeded, the worker is entitled to overtime. 

Maximum work hours are set as well, in the event the employer requires or allows a worker to go into overtime, there is a cap on the duration. The employee can work a total of ten hours in a day and 60 hours in a week. There are available exceptions to this, depending on the employment situation. To access this exception, however, a permit must be issued by the Labour Standards Officer. 

If the employee enters overtime, the remainder of the hours worked are paid out at 150 percent, meaning the hourly rate is $24.00 per hour. This rate only applies to the hours worked in overtime, and not to the total time worked in the pay period. 

Find out why an employer might want to check your credit.

Holiday Pay In Nunavut

Holidays are termed as any recognized holiday that falls within the worker’s period of employment. Pay for these holidays is determined by the wage of the worker. If they are not working on that day, due to the holiday, then the worker is entitled to a shift’s worth of pay. This is determined by the average of the previous week’s days worked. 

If the employee works during a holiday, then there are two options. The employer can pay the full shift at an overtime rate (1.5 times the wage) or choose to give a holiday at an agreed-upon time between the worker and the boss. The day must be taken before annual vacation and will constitute a general holiday. It is often called a day in lieu. 

Minimum Wage Deductions

Wage deductions are fairly straightforward, largely because they are standardized across the country. Employers are restricted as to what they can deduct from your pay cheque. 

generally explain what can be deducted from your wages. This is governed under the Labour Standards Act which prohibits an employer from making unjust deductions. It specifies that, if there is a supplemental deduction, it must be authorized in writing by the employee. 

Standard deductions include: 

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Contributions

The Canada Pension Plan is a federal program into which every Canadian is obligated to pay. This funds those currently receiving pensions and is meant to be held for those currently contributing, enabling them access to funds upon retirement. 

Employment Insurance (EI) Premium 

Another essential premium is Employment Insurance into which both the employer and employee pay. This is deducted from each paycheque by your employer. If you’re fired from work or are unable to work due to an injury or sickness, you can receive EI benefits.

Income Tax

The next, and easily the most substantial, standard deduction is income tax. This is broken into territorial and federal amounts. In Nunavut, there are four tax brackets (4%, 7%, 9%, 11.5%) and depending on your income level you may be taxed at one or all levels.

Learn more about the tax forms that your employer requires you to fill out.

Other 

Extending from court-ordered garnishees due to alimony to matters of child support or insolvency, any legally valid deduction will be taken from your cheque. It is the legal obligation of the employer to deduct this amount and forward it correctly, under the court order. 

How Much Can You Make A Year With Minimum Wage In Nunavut?

Let’s say you work the regular 40-hour work week at the minimum wage rate. Assuming there are no holidays during this given week and no overtime worked, this is how the pay would appear:

Gross Pay For A Week: $19.00 x 40 hours = $640

Gross Pay For A Year: $640 x 52 weeks = $39,520

Nunavut has the lowest territorial income tax, limiting the amount that is deducted from the paycheque. It assists those working on minimum wage above the cost of living. Other ways to bridge the gap caused by the standardized federal amount include the Nunavut Northern Allowance. This can help provide a way to help those bearing the added cost of living in these areas, particularly if the worker relies on minimum wage. 

Final Notes 

Nunavut has the highest minimum wage in Canada as well as the lowest provincial or territorial tax rate. Broken into categories of food, transportation, utilities, leisure, childcare, clothing, and housing, the cost of living in Nunavut is high in each category. It is particularly noticeable in the realm of rental costs and food costs due to supply chain logistics. 

To offer the best possible opportunity for workers, minimum wage is an essential tool. When used in conjunction with the other services available to residents, living in this territory is far easier. Understanding your rights as a worker, including your right to minimum wage, is essential to ensuring that the workforce is properly compensated. This facilitates a strong economy; which, over the long term, has the potential to reduce the cost of living in this area. 

Corrina Murdoch avatar on Loans Canada
Corrina Murdoch

Corrina Murdoch has been a dedicated freelance writer and editor for several years. With an academic background in the sciences and a penchant for mathematics, she seeks to provide readers with accurate, reliable information on important topics. Working as a print journalist for several years, Corrina expanded her reach into the digital sphere to help more people gain insight into the realm of finances. When she's not writing, you can find Corrina swimming and spending time with family.

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