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Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia: 2024 Updates

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Nova Scotia’s minimum wage impacts thousands of workers across the province. This critical labour policy ensures fair base pay while balancing business interests. However, debate continues whether the current minimum wage rates are adequate for workers.

This in-depth article provides a comprehensive overview of Nova Scotia’s minimum wage. It explores the current rate, scheduled hikes, wage orders, allowable deductions, overtime pay, living wage analysis, and potential reforms. Read on for a deep dive into this complex issue.

A Brief History of Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia

Within the existing legislative framework, the provincial Cabinet is authorized to set the minimum wage rate along with any conditions or exemptions. This allows adjusting the minimum wage annually, but rate changes ultimately depend on the governing political party.

Labour groups like the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour have advocated aggressively raising the minimum wage to support low-income workers better.

However, organizations like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have cautioned against dramatic uncontrolled increases, which they argue could hurt job creation and retention.

Finding the right balance has sparked lively ongoing debate between these stakeholders within Nova Scotia’s economic and political landscape.

Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia Over the Years

YearMinimum Wage
2021$12.95 per hour
2020$11.55 per hour
2019$11.00 per hour
2018$10.85 per hour
2017$10.70 per hour

Source: https://loanscanada.ca/minimum-wage/nova-scotia/

Labour groups have advocated aggressively raising the minimum wage, while business groups caution against dramatic increases. Finding the right balance has sparked much lively debate in Nova Scotia’s political and economic landscape.

Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia 2024

Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia 2024
Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia 2024

As of April 1, 2024, the general minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $15.20 per hour. This reflects a $0.20 increase from the previous rate of $15.00 per hour.

The minimum wage rate is adjusted annually each April 1 based on the national Consumer Price Index (CPI), plus an additional 1% added to the minimum wage from the previous April. For 2024, this formula resulted in a 4.7% increase.

Recent Increases to Nova Scotia’s Minimum Wage

Effective DateNew Minimum Wage
April 2022$13.35 per hour
October 2022$13.60 per hour
April 2023$14.50 per hour
October 2023$15.00 per hour
April 2024$15.20 per hour

Going forward, the minimum wage will continue increasing incrementally on April 1 of each year based on the legislated formula.

Minimum Wage Orders in Nova Scotia

While Nova Scotia has a standard minimum wage rate, there are also three specialized “minimum wage orders” that cover specific industries.

Nova Scotia’s Minimum Wage Orders

Minimum Wage OrderIndustries/Occupations Covered
General Minimum Wage OrderApplies to most employees
Construction and Property Maintenance Minimum Wage OrderCovers the construction sector
Logging and Forest Operations Minimum Wage OrderApplies to the logging and forestry industry

These orders establish varying minimum wage and overtime rules for the respective sectors. However, as of April 2024, all three of Nova Scotia’s minimum wage orders share an equal $15.20 per hour minimum wage rate.

General Minimum Wage Order in Nova Scotia

The standard minimum wage order covers most employees and employers across different industries in Nova Scotia.

The General Minimum Wage Order requires a minimum wage of $15.20 per hour as of April 2024.

It also establishes that overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular wage rate must be paid after 48 work hours within a week.

Construction and Property Maintenance Minimum Wage Order in Nova Scotia

For employers and employees operating in the construction and property maintenance industries, the minimum wage is currently set at $15.20 per hour as of April 2024.

However, the overtime rules differ. Overtime pay at 1.5 times regular wages only kicks in after an employee exceeds 110 hours of work biweekly. (Source)

Logging and Forest Operations Minimum Wage Order in Nova Scotia

This order establishes specialized minimum wage and overtime provisions for the logging and forestry industry.

As of April 2024, the minimum wage for this order matches the general rate of $15.20 per hour.

Overtime pay calculations differ under this order. In logging, overtime kicks in after 48 hours, but it is based on a cycle of up to 120 hours in a 3-week period.

Exceptions to Nova Scotia’s Minimum Wage

While minimum wage orders cover most employees, there are exemptions for specific occupations and workers under provincial legislation:

  • Real estate and car salespeople who work entirely on commission
  • Insurance salespeople and brokers
  • Licensed insurance adjusters
  • Commercial fishers and fish plant employees
  • Apprentices registered under the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act
  • Agricultural workers involved in farming operations
  • Athletes, while engaged in sports
  • Students in work training or apprenticeship programs
  • Employees at summer camps or non-profit recreational facilities

Additionally, some domestic workers, such as nannies, are exempt if they work less than 24 hours per week for a householder.

For these exempt groups, employers may legally pay below the provincial minimum wage.

Allowable Deductions from Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia

Under Nova Scotia’s minimum wage orders, employers can deduct specific room and board costs from an employee’s minimum wage earnings:

  • $68.20 per week for combined room and board
  • $55.55 per week for room only
  • $15.45 per week for lodging only
  • $3.65 per meal

These permitted deductions ensure workers still net at least the minimum wage rate after lodging and meal expenses.

However, uniform costs cannot be deducted from pay if doing so reduces an employee’s earnings below the minimum wage. The exception is the cost to dry clean heavy wool or required work materials.

Overtime Pay Requirements and Exemptions in Nova Scotia

Beyond setting a wage floor, Nova Scotia’s minimum wage orders establish varying overtime pay requirements between industries.

Minimum Wage Order Overtime Rules:

Minimum Wage OrderOvertime Pay Threshold
General orderAfter 48 hours in a week
Construction and Property Maintenance OrderAfter 110 hours biweekly
Logging and Forest Operations OrderAfter 48 hours in a week or 120 hours in 3 weeks

Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the regular pay rate for employees covered by these orders.

For salaried employees, overtime is calculated based on their regular “hourly rate,” which equals the weekly salary divided by regular hours worked.

However, certain employees are fully exempt from overtime rules, including:

  • Real estate and car sales agents
  • Insurance salespeople
  • Computer programmers
  • Fishing crew

Hence, overtime requirements depend on the minimum wage order and occupation.

The Living Wage Context in Nova Scotia

While Nova Scotia has a legislated minimum wage, there is also a completely separate “living wage” calculated based on actual living costs.

The living wage reflects what workers must earn to cover reasonable household expenses, not just necessities.

Nova Scotia Living Wage Rates by Region (2022):

AreaLiving Wage Rate
Halifax Region$23.50 per hour
Northern Nova Scotia$20.40 per hour
Southern Nova Scotia$22.55 per hour
Cape Breton$20.00 per hour
Annapolis Valley$22.40 per hour

Source: https://policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/nearly-50-nova-scotians-earn-less-living-wage%E2%80%94new-report

Analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows Nova Scotia’s living wages are well above the current minimum wage of $15.20 per hour.

This suggests the minimum wage needs to fully reflect the actual cost of living in Nova Scotia based on living wage calculations.

The Future of Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia

The Future of Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia
The Future of Minimum Wage in Nova Scotia

Based on the current formula, Nova Scotia’s minimum wage will likely continue seeing small incremental hikes annually.

However, whether more impactful changes materialize depends on shifting political dynamics. Groups like labour advocates will keep lobbying for reforms and a higher minimum wage anchored to living costs.

For now, the status quo of annual CPI-based adjustments appears to continue, barring changes in government or the mandated formula. However, robust debate regarding the ideal minimum wage is expected to remain active.


Nova Scotia’s minimum wage provides workers with a base level of income protection. However, given widespread cost inflation, debate continues about whether the current rate enables a decent quality of life.

As we move forward, regularly re-evaluating the minimum wage framework will be crucial to promote fairness for both workers and businesses. Striking the optimal balance remains complex, but finding solutions that uplift low-wage workers must remain a priority.

In Canada, each province and territory has the autonomy to set its own minimum wage rate that applies to provincially-regulated workers. Provincial/territorial minimum wages may be higher or lower than the federal rate based on local economic conditions, business factors, and cost of living. Currently, minimum wage in Canada vary across the different provinces and territories.

What is the current minimum wage in Nova Scotia?

The current minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $15.20 per hour as of April 1, 2024.

How is the minimum wage determined in Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia's minimum wage is adjusted annually on April 1st based on the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year plus an additional 1% increase.

Who sets the minimum wage rate in Nova Scotia?

The provincial Cabinet has the authority to set the minimum wage rate in Nova Scotia, as per the Labour Standards Code.

How is Nova Scotia's minimum wage determined each year?

The minimum wage is adjusted annually based on the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous calendar year, plus an additional 1% increase over the prior year's rate.

Are any jobs exempt from the minimum wage in Nova Scotia?

Yes, certain occupations like real estate agents, insurance brokers, fishers, and students are exempt from minimum wage requirements.

What is the living wage in Halifax versus the minimum wage?

The living wage in Halifax is currently $23.50 per hour, much higher than the $15.20 minimum wage.

How much has Nova Scotia's minimum wage increased over the past 5 years?

Since 2019, the minimum wage has increased from $11.00 per hour to the current $15.20, a 38% rise.

What proposals have been made to reform minimum wage in Nova Scotia?

Proposals include setting a living wage standard, more aggressive minimum wage hikes, and comprehensive reviews of wage policies.

How is overtime pay calculated for minimum wage workers in Nova Scotia?

Overtime pay of 1.5 times regular wages starts after 48 hours weekly under the general order, and 110 hours biweekly in construction.

What deductions can be taken from the minimum wage in Nova Scotia?

Permitted deductions from minimum wage pay include up to $68.20/week for room and board and dry cleaning costs for some uniforms.

Article Sources

At Ebsource, we adhere to strict editorial principles and only reference credible sources in our content. This allows us to provide trusted insights readers can rely on when making important benefits decisions. For transparency, please find links to the referenced sources below.

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