Atlantic Canada Minimum Wage Changes Effective April 1, 2020: More Than Wage Rates
April 1, 2020
By Dominique Fontaine, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Andrea Williams, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Duncan Sturz, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Alex Warshick, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper
Atlantic Canadian minimum wage rates (the lowest rate an employer is permitted to pay an employee) aren’t all that’s changing on April 1, 2020: Nova Scotia’s minimum wage regime is also undergoing a significant change. Although not all Atlantic provinces have mandated by law the effective date of any annual minimum wage increases, the governments of each have agreed to April 1 as the effective date of any minimum wage increases. Here’s what’s changing in Atlantic Canadian minimum wage rates effective April 1, 2020.
Nova Scotia. Effective April 1, 2020, N.S. will implement two significant changes to its minimum wage regime in addition to increasing its minimum wage rate:
- Single wage. N.S. has been the only Atlantic province with a two-tiered minimum wage system differentiating “experienced” and “inexperienced” workers based on experience in a particular area of work and/or the length of employment with the same employer, paying inexperienced workers a lower minimum wage rate. Effective April 1, 2020, N.S. will eliminate the (lower) rate for “inexperienced” workers.
- Pay to the minute. N.S. will also eliminate the requirement that employers round up parts of hours worked, allowing them to pay employees to the minute.
Effective April 1, 2020, the (sole) N.S. minimum wage rate will increase from $11.55/hour for experienced workers and $11.05/hour for inexperienced workers to a single rate of $12.55/hour for workers regardless of their experience. This increase doesn’t give N.S. the highest minimum wage rate in Atlantic Canada – but it is the highest percentage increase, at 8.7% and 13.6% for experienced and inexperienced workers (in 2019, the lowest minimum wage rate in Atlantic Canada.
Prince Edward Island. Effective April 1, 2020, P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate will increase from $12.25/hour to $12.85/hour. This keeps P.E.I. in top spot for the highest minimum wage rate in Atlantic Canada, though the gap between it and N.S. is closing. P.E.I.’s regulation mandates an annual review of minimum wages, but (as in N.B.) it doesn’t mandate a specific date and its review is also based on a range of factors.
New Brunswick. Effective April 1, 2020, the N.B. minimum wage rate will increase from $11.50/hour to $11.70/hour, keeping it the (distant) third highest (or second lowest) rate in Atlantic Canada, with the lowest percentage increase (1.7%). N.B.’s regulation mandates a review only every two years, with no specific date and based on a review of a range of factors. However, the current N.B. government has stated it will index minimum wage rates to the N.B. consumer price index, rounded to the nearest five cents.
Newfoundland & Labrador. The N.L. government announced four minimum wage increases from the current rate of $11.40/hour (in 2019, the lowest in Atlantic Canada except the N.S. rate for inexperienced workers) over the next 18 months:
- Effective April 1, 2020, it will increase to $11.65/hour.
- Effective October 1, 2020, it will increase again to $12.15/hour.
- Effective April 1, 2021, it will increase based on the National CPI at the time, based on the established formula, plus $.25.
- On October 1, 2021, it will increase by $.25.
The 2020 increase is the second lowest percentage increase in Atlantic Canada (2.2%) and keeps the N.L. rates at the lowest. N.L. mandates an annual review date of April 1 and ties increases to CPI.
Alternate Rates by Sector. N.S. and N.B. have alternate minimum wage rates for specific sectors: N.B. for specific employees in the construction field performing work under a contract awarded by the province, camp leaders and employees whose hours are unverifiable; and N.S. for logging and forestry workers and construction workers.
Weekly Hour Ceilings. Most provinces cap the number of weekly hours for which employers can pay employees the minimum wage rate; after that “overtime” may apply. This cap depends on the province. Employers that don’t comply with the applicable minimum wage rate legislation could face an employee complaint to the governing employment standards body.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our Labour & Employment Law Team @ McInnes Cooper to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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