On October 1 this year, six of ten provinces across Canada will raise regional minimum wage rates.
At the beginning of this month, Canada’s federal minimum wage rose from $15.55 to $16.65. This move was impactful, as Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) noted at the time, because “around 26,000 working Canadians earn less than $15.55 per hour.”
Coinciding with that minimum wage increase on a federal level, Canadians in more than half of the country’s provinces will soon see their minimum wage rates increase at a regional level. More specifically, the anticipated October 1 minimum wage increases will be as follows:
Ontario: Up to $16.55 from $15.50
Manitoba: Up to $15.30 from $14.15
Saskatchewan: Up to $14.00 from $13.00
Nova Scotia: Up to $15.00 from $14.50
Newfoundland and Labrador: Up to $15.00 from $14.50
Prince Edward Island (PEI): Up to $15.00 from $14.50
Note: Saskatchewan has already indicated that they will once again raise their federal minimum wage in October 2024, from $14.00 to $15.00 per hour
What these changes mean for new Canadian immigrants
According to Craig Pickthorne, communications coordinator at the Ontario Living Wage Network, “immigrants” are one of three groups – alongside “equity-seeking groups” and “women” – who “overwhelmingly” find themselves near “the bottom scale of the wage spectrum.”
Therefore, particularly because the federal minimum wage increase from earlier this month affects only employees in federally regulated occupations, the news of increasing regional minimum wage rates will benefit a significant number of recent Canadian newcomers.
In fact, the following table presents the number of new permanent residents that landed in each Canadian province last year. For a significant portion of the recent immigrants in the six provinces receiving minimum wage increases in October, the move will be a welcome boost to their earning potential. Subsequently, this move can be expected to aid them in establishing more comfortable lives in their new home.
|Province/Territory||2022 PRs||% of all PRs||% change from 2021|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||3,490||0.7%||+0.2%|
|Prince Edward Island||2,665||0.6%||–|
|Province not stated||20||0.0%||-0.1%|
Canadian newcomers are protected by universal labour laws
While Canadian immigrants are typically overrepresented in low-wage occupations, it is vital to understand that they are still afforded the same rights and protections as all other workers in this country.
Canada’s Labour Code outlines that permanent residents, citizens, temporary foreign workers, international students and all other employed persons are entitled to perform their job in a safe environment and be compensated for their work.
Additionally, employers across Canada are required to provide employees, including newcomers, with job training, “reasonable” healthcare services, information pertaining to their rights and a signed copy of their employment agreement.
Note: An employment agreement must outline details including, but not limited to, the rate of compensation and terms of any applicable overtime work. This agreement must be provided to employees on or before their first day of work.
Similarly, Canadian employers must ensure they do not mistreat employees in any of the following ways, including:
- Forcing employees to perform unsafe work or work that is not outlined in their employment agreement
- Forcing sick/injured employees to work
- Forcing overtime work on employees who do not have such conditions in their employment agreement
- Taking away an employee’s passport/work permit
- Altering an employee’s immigration status or threatening them with deportation
Reporting employer misconduct
Fear of consequences such as job loss may prevent Canadian employees, and especially immigrants, from reporting workplace misconduct. However, it is important for all Canadians to understand that provincial and territorial workplace health and safety offices exist across the country to help with the reporting of these issues.
In Ontario, for example, the destination province for most Canadian immigrants, urgent and immediate concerns can be reported to the Health and Safety Contact Centre by phone.
A more complete list of workplace health and safety offices across Canada can be found here.