Minimum Wage Rates in Canada: 1965-2015

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September 2015.   Ken Battle

Minimum wages are among Canada’s oldest and most important social programs. Contrary to what some would have us believe, though, minimum wages are not on the decline. This report finds that minimum wage rates have improved substantially in recent years in all provinces and territories – with the exception of Nunavut, which has frozen its rate since 2011 and so caused a small but steady decrease in value.

The recent increase in minimum wages across Canada is likely due in part to the creation of poverty reduction strategies, which have focused attention on minimum wages. Starting in Quebec and then Newfoundland and Labrador, poverty reduction strategies – comprehensive and far-reaching plans to reduce, prevent and eliminate poverty – have been launched by all provinces and territories except British Columbia. While the minimum wage is only one tool among many required to build an effective poverty reduction strategy, it is crucial to the task.

Most jurisdictions do not protect the value of their minimum wages by indexing them to a social indicator such as the change in the cost of living or average earnings. Currently only five jurisdictions index their minimum wage rates – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Yukon.

The report also compares minimum wages in Canada to other countries. Canada ranks in the top one-third of US jurisdictions and of OECD countries. But it sits in the bottom third when comparing minimum wages to average wages.

ISBN – 1-55382-655-8

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One Response to “Minimum Wage Rates in Canada: 1965-2015”

  1. This article emphasizes the importance of minimum wage and how the rise or fall can greatly affect our society. Fortunately minimum wage is rising, due to the poverty reduction strategies. As Canada’s economy plummets the increase in minimum wage could be extremely important for individuals and families across the country. Even with a university degree today it’s extremely hard to find a well paying job. Individuals are being forced to work minimum-wage jobs until higher paying, full-time jobs become easier to access. Individuals are being forced to support themselves and sometimes their families on minimum wage jobs. As prices increase on everyday needs like gas, food, and shelter its becoming harder to buy the necessities and provide for yourself and the ones you love. If minimum wage was not increasing along with the increasing of necessary goods and services it may become seemingly impossible to pay for them. The risk for poverty would become much higher as families would struggle to afford the basic necessities to live a healthy, safe, happy life. Minimum wage rates are crucial to individuals across Canada.

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