Last year at this time, the $15 per hour minimum wage movement seemed like an unstoppable force, particularly in key economic provinces Alberta and Ontario where legislation was adopted calling for a $15 minimum wage.
On Oct. 1, 2018, Alberta actually went through with its increase. But a funny thing happened on the way to the $15 increase in Ontario scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019, namely, the June elections. While unwilling to roll back the $14 increase that had already taken effect, the newly elected Progressive Conservative Party put the $15 per hour follow-up scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019 on ice, freezing the minimum wage at its current level through Oct. 2020. Adding insult to injury (or blessing to blessing depending on your point of view), under the new PC scheme, dramatic policy-driven increases in the future would be replaced by drib-and-drab CPI adjustments a la many of the Maritime provinces.
Outside Alberta & Ontario
Although the $15 per hour movement remains strong in other provinces, notably BC and Québec, the momentum has clearly ebbed. Barring dramatic and unforeseen developments, Alberta will remain the only province with a $15 per hour minimum wage through 2020. BC and Yukon are poised to break the $15 barrier in 2021. And Ontario will remain locked in at $14, the second highest in Canada until BC leap frogs to $14.60 on June 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, Québec, which has already committed to $12.50 on May 1 of this year, will keep a steady pace ahead of the laggers but behind the leaders and nowhere near the $15 mark that seemed so attainable a year ago. Northwest Territories and Nunavut will also continue to feel the pressure to keep their minimum wages on the high side to attract bodies to their territories.
As for the rest of Canada, it should continue to be a slow go with nothing but modest annual increases. Click here to see each jurisdiction’s current minimum wage rate and scheduled increases.