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Workers can expect a slightly higher pay increase this year compared to last year.Wolfgang Amri/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Canadian employees will be happy to hear that salaries are expected to rise an average of 2.8 per cent in 2015, up from the 2.6-per-cent salary increase last year.

The figures, reported in an annual survey released by human resource consulting company Morneau Shepell, also take into account salary freezes and excludes promotional or special salary adjustments.

"Employers are relatively optimistic about the coming year," Michel Dubé, a principal in Morneau Shepell's compensation consulting practice, said in a statement. "Those expecting a significant increase in revenue, operating budgets and staffing outnumber those expecting decreases by four to one."

Although the mining, oil and gas sectors continue to retain their crown for the highest salary increases, the upcoming year's hike of 3.4 per cent falls short of last year's 3.9-per-cent pay raise. Wholesale and retail trade workers will see the smallest increases with only a 2.4-per-cent hike as tougher economic conditions continue.

The report also found that professional, scientific and technical services are pulling ahead with a 3-per-cent pay increase, which Morneau Sheppell said reflects the increased competition for talent in the sector.

Looking into the upcoming year, businesses will be continuing to look for ways to improve employee engagement and performance as they struggle with tightening salary budgets. The report found the major priorities for 2015 would include reward and training and development programs.

Cost-cutting will also affect sick leave and disability pay policies, with one of the hardest hit being benefit and retirement plans. A third of employers who still have defined benefit pension plans signalled in the report their desire to review their existing policies and discuss how employees can share the costs. A quarter said they would be looking into making the switch to defined contribution pension plans.

The survey was conducted during June and July, with input from organizations employing 800,000 people in Canada.

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