Minimum wage in Canada? What you need to know.


With universal healthcare, a socially progressive government, and easy access to all kinds of stunning natural scenery, it’s no wonder Canada is a country that has people all over the world considering an international move.

But after you foot the costs of the move, you’ll need to know whether you can actually afford to live in Canada. If you’re looking for a local job, the country’s minimum wage could end up being your paycheck. Is it enough to live on? How far will a minimum wage salary really take you in Canada?

Read on to learn what you need to know.

What’s the minimum wage in Canada?

Canada’s minimum wage varies depending on the type of work you do and which province you’re in, but the lowest you can expect to be paid is C$10.10 per hour if you’re a liquor server in British Columbia or Ontario. The minimum wage ranges all the way up to C$13.60 per hour for all workers in Alberta.

Who determines minimum wages? When was the last increase?

Minimum wages in Canada are set by the country’s provincial governments but must be approved by the federal Cabinet. The federal minimum wage in Canada was abolished in 1996 when it was decided that federal employees would be paid the minimum wage or higher based on the province in which they are typically employed. Because each of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories sets its own minimum wage, changes happen pretty frequently.

Here are the most recent increases in the minimum wage for each part of Canada:

Canadian JurisdictionEffective DateMinimum Wage
Alberta1 Oct 2017C$13.60 per hour
British Columbia15 Sep 2017C$11.35 per hour C$10.10 per hour for liquor servers
Manitoba1 Oct 2017C$11.15 per hour
New Brunswick1 Apr 2017C$11 per hour
Newfoundland and Labrador1 Oct 2017C$11 per hour
Northwest Territories1 Jun 2015C$12.50 per hour
Nova Scotia1 Apr 2017C$10.85 per hour for experienced workers C$10.35 per hour for inexperienced workers
Nunavut1 Apr 2016C$13 per hour
Ontario1 Oct 2017C$11.60 per hour C$10.10 per hour for liquor serversC$10.90 per hour for students under 18
Prince Edward Island1 Apr 2017C$11.25 per hour
Quebec1 May 2017C$11.25 per hour C$9.45 per hour if gratuities apply
Saskatchewan1 Oct 2017C$10.96 per hour
Yukon1 Apr 2017C$11.32 per hour

Does the minimum wage differ by age in Canada?

Ontario is the only province where age can affect minimum wage. Ontario has a minimum wage that is 70 cents lower for students under 18 years of age, but that only applies if they work fewer than 28 hours per week.

Is there a different minimum wage for apprenticeships or internships?

There is no different minimum wage for internships, though unpaid internships are legal in Canada. If an internship is paid, it has to abide by the minimum wage set for the province. Apprenticeship wage laws vary by province, but generally, there are no minimum wage requirements for registered apprentices in Canada.

Historically, how much has the minimum wage changed over time?

Canada’s minimum wage was established in 1965 at C$1.25 per hour, though some provinces had established minimum wages at the time that were lower. A federal minimum wage remained in effect until 1996, when it was decided that provinces would each set their own minimum wage and federal workers would be paid according to the province in which they did most of their work. Canada has seen minimum wage increases in at least one province every year since its minimum wage was implemented. Today, there are several provinces that guarantee a yearly increase based on the cost of living.

What’s the minimum per month you need to make to qualify for national healthcare or health insurance?

In Canada, all permanent residents are able to apply for national healthcare, regardless of their income. Each province has different rules regarding who qualifies as a permanent resident, but income doesn’t affect a Canadian resident’s ability to get medically necessary care. Many employers offer private, supplemental health insurance, and cost and income requirements for those are entirely up to the employer.

What’s the living wage in Canada? How much can you really get by on?

How much money you need to make to live in Canada really depends on the city you live in. The cost of living varies quite a bit between, say, Toronto, one of Canada’s most expensive cities, and Montreal, a much more affordable alternative. But one person can reasonably expect to spend more than $12,000 per year on necessary living expenses in Canada, not including rent.

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Compared to other countries, is the minimum wage in Canada good?

Whether the minimum wage is “good” really depends on the cost of living in any given country. But here’s how Canada’s minimum wage compares to other parts of the world.

CountryMinimum Wage (in US dollars)
Canada$7.93 - $10.68 per hour
Germany$1,769.80 per month
United States$7.25 per hour
United Kingdom$9.93 per hour
Australia$508.88 per week
NorwayNo legal minimum wage
France$1,748.85 per month
SingaporeNo legal minimum wage
Dubai (UAE)No legal minimum wage
Belgium$1,846.11 per month

Ready to make a living in Canada? Regardless of where you end up, good luck with your move!

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