With universal healthcare, a socially progressive government, and easy access to all kinds of stunning natural scenery, it’s no wonder Canada is a country that has people all over the world considering an international move.
But after you foot the costs of the move, you’ll need to know whether you can actually afford to live in Canada. If you’re looking for a local job, the country’s minimum wage could end up being your paycheck. Is it enough to live on? How far will a minimum wage salary really take you in Canada?
Read on to learn what you need to know.
Canada’s minimum wage varies depending on the type of work you do and which province you’re in, but the lowest you can expect to be paid is C$10.10 per hour if you’re a liquor server in British Columbia or Ontario. The minimum wage ranges all the way up to C$13.60 per hour for all workers in Alberta.
Minimum wages in Canada are set by the country’s provincial governments but must be approved by the federal Cabinet. The federal minimum wage in Canada was abolished in 1996 when it was decided that federal employees would be paid the minimum wage or higher based on the province in which they are typically employed. Because each of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories sets its own minimum wage, changes happen pretty frequently.
Here are the most recent increases in the minimum wage for each part of Canada:
|Canadian Jurisdiction||Effective Date||Minimum Wage|
|Alberta||1 Oct 2017||C$13.60 per hour|
|British Columbia||15 Sep 2017||C$11.35 per hour C$10.10 per hour for liquor servers|
|Manitoba||1 Oct 2017||C$11.15 per hour|
|New Brunswick||1 Apr 2017||C$11 per hour|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1 Oct 2017||C$11 per hour|
|Northwest Territories||1 Jun 2015||C$12.50 per hour|
|Nova Scotia||1 Apr 2017||C$10.85 per hour for experienced workers C$10.35 per hour for inexperienced workers|
|Nunavut||1 Apr 2016||C$13 per hour|
|Ontario||1 Oct 2017||C$11.60 per hour C$10.10 per hour for liquor serversC$10.90 per hour for students under 18|
|Prince Edward Island||1 Apr 2017||C$11.25 per hour|
|Quebec||1 May 2017||C$11.25 per hour C$9.45 per hour if gratuities apply|
|Saskatchewan||1 Oct 2017||C$10.96 per hour|
|Yukon||1 Apr 2017||C$11.32 per hour|
Ontario is the only province where age can affect minimum wage. Ontario has a minimum wage that is 70 cents lower for students under 18 years of age, but that only applies if they work fewer than 28 hours per week.
There is no different minimum wage for internships, though unpaid internships are legal in Canada. If an internship is paid, it has to abide by the minimum wage set for the province. Apprenticeship wage laws vary by province, but generally, there are no minimum wage requirements for registered apprentices in Canada.
Canada’s minimum wage was established in 1965 at C$1.25 per hour, though some provinces had established minimum wages at the time that were lower. A federal minimum wage remained in effect until 1996, when it was decided that provinces would each set their own minimum wage and federal workers would be paid according to the province in which they did most of their work. Canada has seen minimum wage increases in at least one province every year since its minimum wage was implemented. Today, there are several provinces that guarantee a yearly increase based on the cost of living.
What’s the minimum per month you need to make to qualify for national healthcare or health insurance?
In Canada, all permanent residents are able to apply for national healthcare, regardless of their income. Each province has different rules regarding who qualifies as a permanent resident, but income doesn’t affect a Canadian resident’s ability to get medically necessary care. Many employers offer private, supplemental health insurance, and cost and income requirements for those are entirely up to the employer.
How much money you need to make to live in Canada really depends on the city you live in. The cost of living varies quite a bit between, say, Toronto, one of Canada’s most expensive cities, and Montreal, a much more affordable alternative. But one person can reasonably expect to spend more than $12,000 per year on necessary living expenses in Canada, not including rent.
Living between countries or thinking of making a move? TransferWise could help you save when you send money abroad.
You can make international money transfers via your bank to send money abroad, or you can use TransferWise. While banks may mark up the exchange rate on international transfers so they can make money, TransferWise gives you the real mid-market rate — the same exchange rate you see on Google — so you know you’re getting the best possible deal. There are no hidden fees or markups; with TransferWise, you just pay a small transfer fee that’s spelled out upfront.
TransferWise also offers borderless multi-currency accounts, which allow you to send, receive and manage money in multiple global currencies all at once. If you live in one country but work in another, you can get local bank details in the US, the UK, the EU or Australia so you can get paid like a local, without paying expensive international fees to send or receive money abroad.
Whether the minimum wage is “good” really depends on the cost of living in any given country. But here’s how Canada’s minimum wage compares to other parts of the world.
|Country||Minimum Wage (in US dollars)|
|Canada||$7.93 - $10.68 per hour|
|Germany||$1,769.80 per month|
|United States||$7.25 per hour|
|United Kingdom||$9.93 per hour|
|Australia||$508.88 per week|
|Norway||No legal minimum wage|
|France||$1,748.85 per month|
|Singapore||No legal minimum wage|
|Dubai (UAE)||No legal minimum wage|
|Belgium||$1,846.11 per month|
Ready to make a living in Canada? Regardless of where you end up, good luck with your move!