Publications, opinions, and speeches

Caledon report

Minimum Wage Rates in Canada: 1965-2015

Published on 25/09/2015

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

Summary

Minimum wages are among Canada’s oldest and most important social programs.

Topic(s)

Employment and labour, Poverty