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income primer

Minimum wage

Canadian minimum wages vary by province, and all are higher than the United States where the federal rate is $7.25 an hour (wages in some states and U.S. cities are higher than the national level). Alberta has the lowest rate in Canada, at $9.95 an hour, while Nunavut has the highest at $11. Some provinces, such as Nova Scotia, are linking increases to changes in the consumer price index. In Ontario, some groups such as Health Providers Against Poverty are recommending a minimum-wage hike to $14 from $10.25, which business groups say is too much, too quickly.

Share of Canadian employees working for adult minimum wage or less (annual averages)

SOURCE: Statistics Canada

Current minimum hourly wage rates across Canada

ProvinceMinimum Wage (hourly)Next Scheduled Change
British Columbia$10.25 (May 1, 2012)N/A
Alberta$9.95 (Sept. 1, 2013)N/A
Saskatchewan$10.00 (Dec. 1, 2012)N/A
Manitoba$10.45 (Oct. 1, 2013)$10.45 (Oct. 1, 2013)
Ontario$10.25 (Mar. 31, 2010)N/A
Quebec$10.15 (May 1, 2013)N/A
Newfoundland and Labrador$10.00 (July 1, 2010)N/A
Nova Scotia$10.30 (April 1, 2013)Indexed to inflation annually (April 1,2014)
New Brunswick$10.00 (April 1, 2012)N/A
Prince Edward Island$10.00 (April 1, 2012)N/A
Yukon$10.54 (April 1, 2013)Indexed to inflation annually (April 1,2014)
Northwest Territories$10.00 (April 1, 2011)N/A
Nunavut$11.00 (Jan. 1, 2011)N/A

Living wage

A living wage is one that covers basic expenses and is enough to provide a decent standard of living. More than 140 U.S. cities have implemented living-wage policies, while about 500 employers in London, England, have pledged to pay a living wage (estimated at £8.80 an hour, about $16). Traction has been slower in Canada, although New Westminster, B.C., has signed on. Vancouver's living wage is pegged at $19.62 an hour while it is $15.95 in Guelph, Ont. The idea is backed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which says a living wage bolsters local economies, and opposed by the Fraser Institute, which argues it results in fewer jobs.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Basic income

From Switzerland and the U.K. to Namibia and Brazil, the idea of giving citizens a universal, unconditional basic income is growing. Canada is one of the few developed countries that has tested guaranteed incomes, in a mid-1970s experiment in Dauphin, Man. About 400 Canadians, including economists and physicians across the political spectrum, are advocating for a pilot project (