Atlantic Canada Minimum Wage Changes Effective April 1, 2019: In Like a Lamb
March 28, 2019
By Dominique Fontaine, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Sean Corcoran, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Andrea Williams, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper
This year’s increases to Atlantic Canadian minimum wages – the lowest rate an employer is permitted to pay an employee – are entering like a lamb compared to the minimum wage rate increases that roared into effect in 2018. Although not all Atlantic provinces have mandated by law the effective date of any annual minimum wage increases, it seems the governments of each have agreed to April 1 as the effective date of any minimum wage increases. Here’s what Atlantic Canadian minimum wage rates will look like starting April 1, 2019:
Prince Edward Island. Effective April 1, 2019, P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate will increase from $11.55/hour to $12.25/hour, maintaining P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate as the highest in Atlantic Canada. 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.
Nova Scotia. Effective April 1, 2019, the N.S. minimum wage rate will increase from $11.00/hour to $11.55/hour for experienced workers, and from $10.50/hour to $11.05/hour for inexperienced workers. Nova Scotia continues to be 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. This increase makes the N.S. rate for “experienced workers” the second highest in Atlantic Canada, but the rate for “inexperienced workers” is the lowest. In 2011, N.S. legislated an annual review date of April 1, with increases tied to projected annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) changes. In 2019, the N.S. government decided to update the calculation to accurately reflect an average work week for full-time employees to set the rate for the subsequent three years. The rate will increase by about $.55/hour in each of 2020 and 2021; beginning on April 1, 2022, the N.S. government will adjust the minimum wage rate annually with inflation.
New Brunswick. Effective April 1, 2019, the N.B. minimum wage rate will increase from $11.25/hour to $11.50/hour, making it the third highest rate in Atlantic Canada. 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 N.B. government (new since the last minimum wage review) has stated that future minimum wage rates will be indexed to New Brunswick’s consumer price index, rounded to the nearest five cents.
Newfoundland & Labrador. Effective April 1, 2019, N.L.’s minimum wage will increase from $11.15/hour to $11.40/hour, making the lowest in Atlantic Canada (with the exception of the N.S. rate for inexperienced workers). In 2018, N.L. became only the second Atlantic Canadian province to legislate an annual review date of April 1 and to tie 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 the Labour & Employment 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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