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Minimum Wage in Ontario: 2024 Updates

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In the province of Ontario, Canada, minimum wage rates are updated annually on October 1st based on inflation and the Consumer Price Index. As of October 1st, 2023, Ontario’s minimum wage is $16.55 per hour. It is set to increase to $17.20 per hour, effective October 1st, 2024.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of minimum wage requirements, exemptions, compliance, and perspectives in Ontario, Canada, for 2024.

We’ll cover who is entitled to minimum wage, how rates are set, legal obligations for employers, and potential changes on the horizon. Read on for a detailed guide to the minimum wage in Ontario, Canada, this coming year.

Minimum Wage in Ontario 2024

On March 28th, 2024, the Ontario government announced that the general minimum wage would increase from $16.55 per hour to $17.20 per hour, effective October 1st, 2024. This 3.9% wage increase is tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index (CPI) and represents the government’s annual adjustment to maintain the minimum wage’s purchasing power and affordability.

When it takes effect, the new $17.20 per hour minimum wage will be the second highest provincial minimum wage in Canada.

Here is a summary of Ontario’s minimum wage increases from 2020 to the newly announced 2024 rate:

Effective DateNew Minimum Wage% Change
October 1st, 2020$14.25 per hourN/A
October 1st, 2021$14.35 per hour0.7%
January 1st, 2022$15.00 per hour4.6%
October 1st, 2022$15.50 per hour3.3%
October 1st, 2023$16.55 per hour6.8%
October 1st, 2024$17.20 per hour3.9%

Source: https://stlawyers.ca/blog-news/ontario-minimum-wage-2024/

With this forthcoming increase, Ontario’s minimum wage will have risen steadily from $14.25 in 2020 to $17.20 by 2024. Annual increases help low-wage workers keep up with the cost of living. Employers across the province must comply with the new rate as of October 1st.

Who is Covered by Minimum Wage in Ontario?

Who is Covered by Minimum Wage in Ontario
Who is Covered by Minimum Wage in Ontario

Most employees in Ontario fall under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) provisions, which sets minimum wage standards. However, there are some exemptions:

  • Federal government employees
  • Students in approved work placement programs
  • Community participation under the Ontario Works Act
  • Police officers
  • Inmates and individuals sentenced to community service
  • Certain political, judicial, and religious positions

Unless part of these exempt groups, employees in Ontario should be paid at least the minimum wage for their job category based on the ESA regulations. This includes full-time, part-time, casual, salaried, hourly, and commission-based workers.

Read more: Employee Benefits in Canada

General Minimum Wage Requirements in Ontario

The general minimum wage in Ontario applies to most employees and occupational categories. As of October 1st, 2023, this general minimum wage is set at $16.55 per hour. The newly announced increase will rise to $17.20 per hour as of October 1st, 2024.

Some key points regarding Ontario’s general minimum wage:

  • Applies to full-time, part-time, and casual employees
  • Covers hourly, salary, commission, piece-rate compensation
  • Increased from $14.25 in 2020 to $17.20 by 2024
  • Historical increases tied to inflation and cost of living

Employers in Ontario must ensure that their employees receive at least the prescribed minimum wage for all hours worked, not including eating periods, breaks, or rest periods. Tips and commissions cannot be counted toward meeting the minimum wage.

Ontario’s general minimum aims to provide a fair wage floor for employees based on rising living costs. Employers must comply with the mandated rate.

Exceptions to the General Minimum Wage in Ontario

Exceptions to the General Minimum Wage in Ontario
Exceptions to the General Minimum Wage in Ontario

While most employees in Ontario are entitled to the current general minimum wage of $16.55 per hour, some occupational exceptions have specialized rates:

Student Minimum Wage

A lower student minimum wage applies to students under 18 who work 28 hours per week or less while attending school.

Currently $15.60 per hour

Increases to $16.20 per hour effective October 1st, 2024

Accounts for approximately 7% of minimum wage earners in Ontario.

This lower rate reflects the balance between education and part-time work for students. When full-time hours are worked during school breaks, the general minimum wage applies.

Hunting, Fishing and Wilderness Guides Minimum Wage

Individuals employed as hunting, fishing, or wilderness guides have a unique pay structure:

Currently, $82.85 for less than five consecutive hours worked per day.

Currently $165.75 for five or more hours in a day (whether consecutive hours or not)

Increases to $86 and $172.05, respectively, on October 1st, 2024

This accounts for approximately 1% of minimum wage earners. The rate takes into account the long, variable, and seasonal nature of their work.

Homeworkers Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage is $18.20 per hour for employees classified as “homeworkers” who work from home for a business.

Rising to $18.90 per hour effective October 1st, 2024

Accounts for a small subset of workers

This higher rate compensates for the use of their own home and resources.

Room and Board Deductions

In certain cases, partial wage deductions are permitted to offset the employer’s provision of room and board. However, deductions cannot bring a worker below the total minimum wage for actual hours worked.

Source: https://achkarlaw.com/what-are-the-rules-regarding-minimum-wage-ontario/

How Minimum Wage is Set in Ontario

Ontario determines the minimum wage annually based on the province’s previous year’s Consumer Price Index. The rate aims to help low-wage workers maintain their purchasing power as the cost of living rises.

Each year, the planned increase to take effect on October 1st is announced by April 1st. For example, the 2024 increase to $17.20 was revealed in late March.

This mechanism allows the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. As the costs of housing, food, transportation and other necessities increase, a higher minimum wage preserves workers’ ability to afford those goods and services.

Annual increases to the minimum wage are also more predictable for employers when they are tied to CPI. The consistent timing of rate changes by October 1st allows businesses to prepare.

Effects on Employers in Ontario

Employers in Ontario have a legal obligation to pay their employees at least the prescribed minimum wage. With the increase to $17.20 per hour coming on October 1st, 2024, employers should prepare to adjust worker pay accordingly.

Employers must ensure that employees paid by commission’s total earnings meet the minimum wage when factoring in their hours worked. For example, if an employee worked 25 hours a week but only earned $200 in commissions, the employer would need to pay the additional $113.75 ($413.75 owed at minimum wage minus $300 in commissions).

Deductions for room and board can also impact employees’ take-home pay. However, deductions cannot lower the worker’s pay below the minimum wage when accounting for hours worked.

By complying with minimum wage laws, employers in Ontario can avoid potential penalties, legal issues, and reputational damage. It also contributes to a fair and ethical work environment.

Political Perspectives on Minimum Wage in Ontario

Views on the ideal minimum wage differ across Canada’s political spectrum. The New Democratic Party (NDP) has outlined the most aggressive minimum wage plan.

The NDP platform calls for increasing Ontario’s minimum wage to $20 per hour by 2026 through a series of incremental hikes:

  • $16 per hour by October 1st, 2022
  • $17 per hour by May 1st, 2023
  • $18 per hour by May 1st, 2024
  • $19 per hour by May 1st, 2025
  • $20 per hour by May 1st, 2026

They view this as necessary to provide a living wage in light of rising costs. Other parties have yet to commit to a figure as high as that but support measured increases through inflation indexing. Overall, a minimum wage increase currently garners broad political acceptance.

Compliance and Enforcement in Ontario

Employers in Ontario governed by ESA standards have a legal obligation to pay their employees at least the prescribed minimum wage. Forthcoming changes must be implemented by the effective date.

With the upcoming increase to $17.20 per hour on October 1st, 2024, employers must adjust worker pay accordingly. Compliance involves:

  • Paying all covered employees at least the general minimum wage or the specialized rate for their occupation (e.g. student wage)
  • Ensuring total compensation for commission workers meets minimum hourly rates
  • Only deduct rooms and boards in accordance with ESA regulations.
  • Updating payroll systems and pay schedules to reflect new rates

Employees who believe they have not received proper minimum wage pay can file a claim with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour within two years. Investigations will confirm whether violations occurred.

For employers found to be non-compliant, consequences can include orders to pay owed wages plus penalties up to $500,000 for corporations. These measures enforce minimum wage laws.

Key Takeaways on Ontario’s Minimum Wage 2024

  • The general minimum wage increases to $17.20/hour, effective October 1st, 2024.
  • Most employees are covered under the ESA and entitled to the minimum wage.
  • Specialized rates apply to students, guides, and homeworkers.
  • Annual increases are tied to inflation and the Consumer Price Index.
  • Employers must comply with minimum wage requirements.
  • Claims can be filed for unpaid wages within a 2 year window.

Adhering to minimum wage requirements protects workers, contributes to ethical business practices, and promotes fairness in Ontario’s labour market. Both employers and employees should understand the standards and forthcoming changes for 2024.

Conclusion

Ontario’s minimum wage aims to provide fair compensation to employees and preserve purchasing power against inflation. The rate is reviewed annually and will increase to $17.20 per hour on October 1st, 2024. Employers must comply with the updated minimum to avoid penalties.

The minimum wage applies to most workers, except for certain groups like students. Specialized rates exist for unique job categories like homeworkers. By understanding Ontario’s minimum wage framework, companies and workers can ensure standards are followed as the rate rises to $17.20 in 2024.

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.

How is minimum wage determined in Ontario?

The minimum wage in Ontario is reviewed annually and increased based on the previous year's Consumer Price Index to account for inflation. The rate aims to help low-wage workers maintain their purchasing power as the cost of living rises.

What is Ontario's minimum wage in 2024?

As of October 1, 2024, Ontario's general minimum wage will increase to $17.20 per hour, up 3.9% from the current rate of $16.55 per hour. This change was announced by the Ontario government on March 28, 2024.

When will the minimum wage change in Ontario?

Ontario's minimum wage rates are adjusted once a year and take effect October 1st. The 2024 increase to $17.20 per hour will take effect October 1, 2024.

Who does the minimum wage apply to in Ontario?

The minimum wage applies to the majority of employees in Ontario, with exemptions for certain groups like students, hunting/fishing guides, and homeworkers who have specialized rates. Federal government employees are also exempt.

Why are there different minimum wages in Ontario?

Specialized minimum wages exist to account for unique circumstances of some employment categories. For example, students can be paid less to balance school and work, while homeworkers' higher rate accounts for using their own resources.

Do commission workers get minimum wage in Ontario?

Yes, commission workers in Ontario must still earn at least the minimum wage when factoring their commission and hours worked. If commissions alone do not meet the minimum hourly rate, the employer must top-up pay.

Does minimum wage increase if tips are earned in Ontario?

No, earned tips cannot be used to offset the requirement for an employer to pay at least the minimum wage in Ontario. Tips are in addition to, not part of, the minimum hourly pay rate.

Can employers deduct room and board from minimum wage in Ontario?

Room and board deductions are permitted but cannot reduce an employee’s pay below the minimum wage they are entitled to for hours worked. Deduction amounts are limited.

Is there a training wage for youth in Ontario?

No, Ontario does not allow for a special reduced “training wage” for youth or new hires. The student minimum wage applies to workers under 18 according to specific criteria.

How can workers recover unpaid wages in Ontario?

Employees who believe they were not paid the proper minimum wage can file a claim with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour within 2 years to investigate and facilitate repayment of owed wages.

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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