Minimum wage is the lowest amount at which an employer can legally buy your labour.
Find out which Canadian provinces and territories have the most generous minimum wage rates, and discover which jobs fall into unique minimum wage categories.
Federal minimum wage
Canada instituted a new federal minimum wage of $16.65 per hour on April 1, 2023. Previously, workers were subject to the minimum wage of whatever province or territory they worked in. This new federal minimum wage is set by the government and is adjusted based on inflation.
The federal minimum wage applies to all workers in industries regulated by the federal government, including:
- Federal Crown corporations, such as Canada Post.
- Some Indigenous government activities that occur on First Nations reserves.
- Air transportation.
- Some road transportation services.
» MORE: What is passive income?
Special minimum wage rates
In general, provincial or territorial minimum wage standards apply equally to all wage earners regardless of their age, specific job or the number of hours they work. Interestingly, however, some provinces allow different minimum wages based on age and for some specialized jobs. These special minimum wage rates apply in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
For example, the minimum wage requirements in Ontario, set out in the province’s Employment Standards Act as of October 1, 2023, differ for the following categories:
- General minimum wage: $16.55 per hour.
- Student minimum wage: $15.60 per hour.
- Homeworkers minimum wage: $18.20 per hour.
- Hunting, fishing and wilderness guides minimum wage: A day rate of $82.85 for less than five consecutive hours of work per day, or $165.75 for five or more hours of work per day.
Categories of work that qualify for a special minimum wage can vary widely based on the region. For example, Quebec has a special minimum wage exception for raspberry and strawberry pickers. Alberta has a special minimum wage for live-in domestic workers, and British Columbia has a special rate for live-in camp leaders.
What are Canada’s provincial minimum wages?
Minimum wage is different in each province and territory. Here’s a look at current provincial and territorial minimum hourly wages for general labour:
- Alberta: $15.00.
- British Columbia: $16.75.
- Manitoba: $15.30.
- New Brunswick: $14.75.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $15.00.
- Northwest Territories: $16.05.
- Nova Scotia: $15.00.
- Nunavut: $16.00.
- Ontario: $16.55.
- Prince Edward Island: $15.00.
- Quebec: $15.25.
- Saskatchewan: $14.00 (will increase to $15.00 by October 2024).
- Yukon: $16.77.
What does “minimum wage” mean?
A minimum wage is the lowest amount of money an employer can legally pay an employee, and it’s typically expressed as a number of dollars per hour.
While the Canadian government does not set a maximum amount an employee can be paid, it is concerned with setting a minimum wage in the interest of promoting fair employment practices, protecting vulnerable and non-unionized workers, and helping to combat poverty.
Most employees qualify for minimum wage, whether they work full-time, part-time or casually. Minimum wages vary significantly throughout the country as they are set by the labour legislation of each province and territory. For example, Yukon has the highest minimum wage rate, $16.77 per hour, while Saskatchewan has the lowest, at only $14 per hour.
It’s worth noting that each province and territory has a different process by which they decide whether to raise the minimum wage, and by how much.
Some provinces, such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick, automatically adjust their minimum wages based on a provincial Consumer Price Index, which tracks the increases in consumer prices (i.e., inflation). Alternatively, the Northwest Territories’ minimum wage is reviewed every two years by a special Minimum Wage Committee to determine if it should be increased.
How to supplement your minimum wage income
It can be challenging to make ends meet if you earn the minimum wage, especially if you live in a big city or other high-cost-of-living area.
While it’s a good idea to prioritize saving money, that’s not always possible when struggling to manage the cost of essentials.
You could look into making money online, or consider other ways of making extra money, such as picking up freelance work, babysitting, or turning an extra room in your house into a short-term rental if your local regulations allow it.
Side hustles are non-traditional jobs held in addition to full-time employment. Consider your schedule and start-up costs when deciding if a side-hustle is right for you.