Minimum wage increases in Ontario and Nova Scotia

Ontario is bringing in the seventh consecutive annual increase to the minimum wage raising it to $10.25, effective March 31. And, on April 1 Nova Scotians will see the minimum wage increase to $9.20 on April 1. This is a 6.9 per cent increase from the current rate of $8.60.

As of March 31, Ontario’s minimum wage will have increased almost 50 per cent since 2004, when it stood at $6.85. Between 1995 and 2004 the minimum wage in Ontario remained frozen.

Increasing the minimum wage is part of Breaking the Cycle: Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy, which will reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25 per cent over five years - lifting 90,000 kids out of poverty - by boosting benefits for low-income families and enhancing publicly funded education.

According to the Ministry of Labour, the major industries employing minimum wage earners are: accommodation and food, retail trade, and agriculture.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia also has a minimum wage for inexperienced workers, with less than three months' experience in the work for which they were hired. This rate will rise to $8.70 an hour from $8.10 an hour.

According to the schedule approved in 2008, the next increase for Nova Scotians will occur on Oct. 1., resulting in a 4.8 per cent increase to $9.65 per hour.

In January 2008, a four-person committee recommended a series of minimum wage increases to April 1, 2011. In December 2009, after reviewing the economic climate and Nova Scotia's economic situation compared to other jurisdictions, the committee reaffirmed its original recommended schedule of wage increases.

By October, a full-time employee earning minimum wage will be within reach of the projected low income cut off for a single person. The low income cut off represents the threshold where people are devoting a larger than average percentage of their income to the necessities of food, shelter, and clothing.

These recommendations are in line with Nova Scotia's ongoing Poverty Reduction Strategy that was put in place in 2009. The strategy highlights the need for people to find work and be rewarded for it.