It’s no April Fools’ Day joke: effective April 1, 2017 the minimum wage rates in each of the four Atlantic Canadian Provinces will increase. The minimum wage rate is the lowest rate an employer is permitted to pay an employee. Here’s a look at what will happen to general minimum wage rates in Atlantic Canada in 2017:
Prince Edward Island. Six months after its last increase, P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate continues to climb: effective April 1, 2017, P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate will increase from $11.00/hour to $11.25/hour. This increase will keep it the highest rate in Atlantic Canada for 2017 and, along with Quebec, the fifth highest minimum wage rate in Canada at least until other Provinces announce and implement 2017 rate increases.
Newfoundland & Labrador. After sticking at $10.50/hour since October 1, 2015, the N.L. minimum wage rate will increase twice in 2017: effective April 1, 2017, it will increase to $10.75/hour, and effective October 1, 2017, again to $11.00/hour. With the objective of bringing the N.L. rate more in line with that elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, the total increase of $.50/hour in 2017 makes this the biggest minimum wage rate increase in Atlantic Canada this year.
New Brunswick. A year to the day after its last increase, and increasing by the second greatest amount at $.35/hour, effective April 1, 2017 the N.B. minimum wage rate will increase to $11.00/hour.
Nova Scotia. Rounding out the Atlantic Canada increases, effective on April 1, 2017 the N.S. minimum wage rate will increase by $.15/hour, to $10.85/hour for experienced workers and to $10.35/hour for inexperienced workers to $10.35/hour. This relatively modest increase means N.S. will move from having the highest Atlantic Canadian rate in 2015 to the lowest in 2017. N.S. also continues to be the only Atlantic Province with a two-tiered minimum wage system: “experienced” workers have experience in a particular area of work and/or have been employed by the same employer for more than three calendar months; inexperienced workers are those who have worked for the employer for less than three months and have less than three months total experience with the kind of work they have been hired to do.
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.
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The Labour and Employment Team @ McInnes Cooper provides innovative and strategic advice to employers in both unionized and non-unionized environments. We keep you well informed of legislative changes that impact human resources and affect your business.