Canada has a diverse and dynamic economy, with different provinces and territories setting their own minimum wage rates for workers. The minimum wage is the lowest hourly pay that employers can legally offer to their employees, whether they work full-time or part-time.
In this blog post, we will look at how minimum wage rates will change in six out of ten Canadian provinces in October 2023. We will also explore what these changes mean for new Canadian immigrants who are looking for work or already employed in Canada.
A Brief Overview of Minimum Wage Rates in Canada
Canada does not have a national minimum wage, but it does have a federal minimum wage that applies to workers in federally regulated industries, such as banks, postal services, interprovincial transportation and federal Crown corporations. The federal minimum wage increased from $15.55 to $16.65 on April 1, 2023, affecting about 26,000 workers across Canada.
However, most workers in Canada are under provincial or territorial jurisdiction, which means they are subject to the minimum wage rates set by their respective governments. These rates vary from $10.45 in Alberta to $14.00 in Nunavut, and are often adjusted annually based on inflation or other economic factors.
In October 2023, six provinces will increase their minimum wage rates to match or exceed the federal minimum wage increase. These provinces are:
- Ontario: $16.55 per hour
- Manitoba: $15.30 per hour
- Saskatchewan: $14.00 per hour
- Nova Scotia: $15.00 per hour
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $15.00 per hour
- Prince Edward Island (PEI): $15.00 per hour
Some provinces have exceptions or exemptions for certain types of workers, such as students, liquor servers, homeworkers, hunting and fishing guides, wilderness guides, and construction workers. Employers who provide room and board to their employees may also deduct a certain amount from their wages.
For more information on minimum wages and employment standards in each province or territory, you can visit their official websites or contact their labour offices.
The Impact of Minimum Wage Changes on New Canadian Immigrants
New Canadian immigrants make up a significant portion of low-wage workers in Canada, especially in sectors such as retail, hospitality, agriculture, and manufacturing. Many of them face challenges such as language barriers, credential recognition, discrimination, and exploitation.
According to Craig Pickthorne, the communications coordinator at the Ontario Living Wage Network, there are three groups that are most likely to be paid at minimum wage: equity-seeking groups, immigrants, and women. He says that the federal minimum wage increase that happened earlier in the year only benefited workers in federally regulated jobs, so the provincial minimum wage increases will have a greater impact on new Canadian immigrants.
However, higher minimum wages alone may not be enough to improve the living standards and working conditions of new Canadian immigrants. They also need access to decent health benefits, on-the-job training, information about their rights, and protection from mistreatment by employers.
The Rights and Protections of New Canadian Immigrants as Workers
Canada has a strong legal framework that protects the rights and interests of all workers in Canada, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship. Under Canada’s Labour Code, permanent residents, citizens, temporary foreign workers, international students, and all employed people have the right to work in a safe environment and receive fair pay for their work.
Employers in Canada must comply with the labour laws and regulations of their jurisdiction and respect the human rights of their employees. They must not mistreat their workers in any way, such as:
- Forcing them to do dangerous tasks that are not part of their job description
- Coercing them to work when they are sick or injured
- Pressuring them to work overtime without proper compensation
- Taking away their passport or work permit
- Threatening them with deportation or changing their immigration status
- Harassing them verbally or physically
If new Canadian immigrants experience any form of misconduct or abuse at their workplace, they should report it to the provincial or territorial workplace health and safety office or the human rights commission. They can also seek help from community organizations, legal clinics, unions, or immigration consultants.
For example, Ontario is the most popular destination for new Canadian immigrants, with more than 40% of them settling in the province. Workers in Ontario can report their concerns to the Health and Safety Contact Centre.
Minimum wage rates are an important factor that affects the income and well-being of workers in Canada, especially new Canadian immigrants who are often employed in low-wage sectors.
In October 2023, six provinces will increase their minimum wage rates to match or exceed the federal minimum wage increase, which will benefit many workers across Canada.
However, minimum wage increases are not the only solution to improve the living standards and working conditions of new Canadian immigrants. They also need access to decent health benefits, on-the-job training, information about their rights, and protection from mistreatment by employers.
Canada has a strong legal framework that protects the rights and interests of all workers in Canada, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship. New Canadian immigrants should be aware of their rights and protections as workers and report any misconduct or abuse they encounter at their workplace.