Minimum Wage in Ontario 2021

Ontario is by far the biggest province in Canada in terms of both population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Like the other provinces, Ontario has a minimum wage rate to ensure that employees earn a “fair” pay for their effort.

This post covers the minimum wage in Ontario, some exceptions and special rates, the historical rates, planned increases for 2021 and more.

Ontario Minimum Wage 2021

The general minimum wage in Ontario is currently $14.25 per hour. The rate became effective on October 1, 2020 and will be in effect till September 30, 2021. It was an increase of 25 cents from the previous minimum wage rate of $14 that became effective since January 2018.

However, there are some exceptions and specialized cases that have different minimum wage rates.

The table below provides a summary of the applicable minimum wage rates in Ontario, and more details are provided in the next section.

Employee CategoryPrevious RatesRates Effective October 1, 2021
General Minimum Wage$14.00 per hour$14.25 per hour
Liquor Servers Minimum Wage$12.20 per hour$12.45 per hour
Student Minimum Wage$13.15 per hour$13.40 per hour
Homeworkers Wage Rates$15.40 per hour$15.70 per hour
Hunting & Fishing Guides Min. WageLess than 5 hours: $70.00
5 or more hours: $140.00
Less than 5 hours: $71.30
5 or more hours: $142.60
Wilderness guides min. wageLess than 5 hours: $70.00
5 or more hours: $140.00
Less than 5 hours: $71.30
5 or more hours: $142.60

Specialized Minimum Wage Rates in Ontario

The $14.25 is the general wage rate. But some workers can earn more than the standard rate, while others earn less.

Liquor Servers Minimum Wage

Liquor servers have the lowest minimum wage across board with a rate of just $12.45 per hour. But this is due to the peculiar nature of their job and the expectation that they’ll receive tips and gratuities as part of their pay.

But the rate only applies to those serving liquor directly to guests or patrons at licensed premises, that is businesses with licenses to sell liquor.

Student Minimum Wage

Students younger than 18 years, the age of majority in Ontario, and working less than 28 hours per week have a minimum wage rate of $13.40 – 85 cents lower than the general wage rate.

This applies whether they’re working during a school break, summer holidays or while the school is in session.

The previous student minimum wage rate in Ontario was $13.15 before the current rate became effective in October 2020, and the rate will be increasing to $13.50 by October 1, 2021.

Homeworkers Wage Rates

An homeworker is any employee that gets paid to work from their own house. The minimum wage for these class of workers in Ontario is $15.70 per hour, a $1.45 higher pay than the general minimum wage.

The higher rate makes sense since they’ll be using their own equipment and tools to perform their work. An example of employees in this category are call centre reps or software developers.

Also, the same higher rate applies to students even if they are below age 18. As long as they’re classified as homeworkers, the $15.70 applies to them and not the lower rate of $13.40 above.

Hunting and Fishing Guides Minimum Wage

These set of workers are not compensated by an hourly rate. Rather, their pay is based on blocks of time. They’re paid a minimum wage of $71.30 for working less than 5 hours – consecutive or not.

An higher rate of $142.60 is paid when they work for more than 5 hours in a day. If you do the math, hunting and fishing guides can earn more than the general minimum wage depending on the number of hours they actually work.

For example: Imagine someone that worked just 3 hours in a day and got paid $71.30. The hourly rate would work to almost $24 per hour.

Wilderness guides minimum wage

Finally, we have Wilderness Guides. Their minimum wage rate is the same as the rates for hunting and fishing guides and it works the same way.

Working less than 5 hours will net them $71.30 and double for 5 hours and above.

They are employed to teach, assist and guide people that are engaged in various activities that happens in a wilderness environment. Some of these includes hiking, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, dogsledding, horseback riding and so on.

Note: a student below 18 years who works less than 28 hours per week as a wilderness guide will not be entitled to the same rate.


Exceptions to the Minimum Wage in Ontario

Like the specialized cases above, there are other exceptions to the general minimum wage rates in Ontario. Here are 3 to know about:

Commission

Commission-based workers must be paid an amount that equals the minimum wage for the hours they actually worked. If their total commission is lower than the minimum wage for the pay period, the employer will have to pay extra.

Here’s an illustration to help you better understand the minimum wage calculation for employees earning commissions in Ontario.

Jason and Sam both work on commissions for 35 hours per week. They’re paid weekly and for the current period, Jason made $750 in total commissions while Sam only managed to make $250.

Per Ontario minimum wage rates and rules, the minimum wage they can both earn for a week is $498.75 ($14.25 * 35 hours).

That means Jason can keep his total commissions of $750. However, their employer will have to pay Sam an extra $248.75 to bring his pay to the weekly minimum wage.

In summary, Sam still gets $498.75 even though his total commissions for the week is much lower. But Jason will not get an extra pay.

There are other industry-specific rules, and you can read all about them here.

Three-hour Rule

This rule was introduced as part of Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018.

It addresses the situation where an employee that usually works more than 3 hours is sent home without working up to 3 hours. In this case, the rule says that they must be paid for a minimum of 3 hours at their regular rate.

Here’s an illustration: An employee that earns $14.35 was required to come to work but only got to work for just 1 hour. He would have to be paid his regular rate for an hour and also receive pay for 2 extra hours for a total of $42.75.

The rule is not applicable to employees that work a regular shift that’s less than 3 hours or when the situation is beyond the employer’s control.

Room and Board

Employees may be paid a lower minimum wage if they receive room and board from their employer. An employer that provides housing and meals to its employees is deemed to have paid some wage if the employer actually occupied the room and received the meals.

The deemed amount that is prescribed by Ontario is shown below:

  • Room: It is charged at $31.70 per week for private rooms and $15.85 for non-private rooms. For domestic workers with a non-private room arrangement, the rate is $0.
  • Meals: Each meal costs $2.25 up to a weekly maximum of $53.55.
  • Rooms and meals (weekly): Combining room and board is charged at $85.25 for private room arrangements or $69.40 for non-private rooms.
  • Harvest Workers housing (weekly): a rate of $99.35 for service housing and $73.30 for unserviced housing.

Ontario Minimum Wage History

Wondering how the Ontario minimum wage rates have changed over the years? The chart below shows the historical minimum wage rates starting in the 21st century (2000 to date).

Date of IncreaseMinimum Wage Rate
October 1, 2020$14.25
January 1, 2018$14.00
October 1, 2017$11.60
October 1, 2016$11.40
October 1, 2015$11.25
June 1, 2014$11.00
March 1, 2010$10.25
March 1, 2009$9.50
March 1, 2008$8.75
February 1, 2007$8.00
February 1, 2006$7.75
February 1, 2005$7.45
February 1, 2004$7.15

You can check the historical minimum wage rates in Ontario all the way back to 1965 and for other Canadian provinces in this archive.

Ontario’s Minimum Wage Legislation

The current minimum wage legislation in Ontario is largely governed by Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018.

From the chart above showing the minimum wage history in Ontario, you would notice that there were years with no increases. However with the changes introduced by Bill 47, there will be increases in October of every year starting in 2020.

Going forward, the Ontario minimum wage will be adjusted for inflation using the previous year’s Consumer Price Index and the increase announced on or before April 1.


Minimum Wage Yearly Salary In Ontario

So how much does minimum wage make a year Ontario? Someone earning minimum wage in Ontario and working 37.5 hours per week will earn a gross annual salary of $27,787.50 at a rate of $14.25 per hour.

This assumes the employee works 7.5 hours daily and gets paid vacation. The table below summarizes the gross pay and net pay for minimum wage earners in Ontario for the 3 common pay frequencies: Weekly, bi-weekly (26 pay periods) and semi-monthly (24 pay periods).

The annual salary information is also included.

Pay Freq.# of PeriodsGross PayNet PayTotal Deduction
Weekly52$534$451$84
Bi-weekly26$1,069$897$172
Semi-monthly24$1,158$972$186
Annual1$27,788$23,316$4,472

If you work a different number of hours per week or want to change any of the variables above, you can use the CRA’s Online Payroll Deductions Calculator here.

Minimum wage earners in Ontario fall in the first tax bracket for both the provincial and federal tax returns. The Ontario tax rate is 5.05% on the first $45,142 and 15% on the first $49,020 at the federal level.

But the tax liability is reduced by the basic personal amount ($13,808 for federal and $10,880 for Ontario). The basic personal amount ensures that those earning below those amounts will not have to pay any tax, while those earning above will see a partial reduction.

Any other tax credits and deductions that the tax-payer is eligible for will also reduce the tax liability further. A few of these include: Child-care expenses, RRSP deduction, age amount, Tuition credits, Medical expenses and many more.

Increasing Your Pay

If you currently earn minimum wage in Ontario and want to increase your income, this section contains a few tips that can help you make more money and increase your earnings potential.

  • Ask for a raise: This is a quick win and doesn’t require too much effort from your end. Remember that the minimum wage rate is just a guide. If you believe the value you bring to your employer is more than the pay you’re getting, have an honest conversation about getting a pay raise.
  • Learn a new skill: Picking up new skills will both increase your value to your current employer and open up more opportunities for you. You can turn the new skill into a lucrative side gig that could in more money than what you earn from your job.
  • Get educated: Go back to school or get a certification that can increase your earnings potential. Unlike the previous tips, this will require more effort and may even mean not working for some time. But it’ll have a bigger impact on your future earnings and your time and cost investment will pay off in a big way.
  • Make extra money: There are several options for making extra money. It can be as simple as making deliveries or driving for one of the ride-hailing companies. Have an extra space in your home? Rent it out or get a roommate for some extra cash. Good with arts and crafts, Etsy makes it simple to start earning from these.

Check here for 11 ways to make more money using your existing skills and expertise.


Minimum Wage in Canada (Ontario vs Others)

So how does the Ontario minimum wage compare to the ones at the other provinces and territories? The table below shows the current general minimum wage rates across all Canadian provinces and territories.

Province/TerritoryMinimum Wage Per Hour
Nunavut$16.00
British Columbia$15.20
Alberta$15.00
Ontario$14.25
Yukon$13.85
Quebec$13.50
Northwest Territories$13.46
Prince Edward Island$13.00
Nova Scotia$12.95
Newfoundland & Labrador$12.50
Manitoba$11.90
New Brunswick$11.75
Saskatchewan$11.45

But note that the comparison isn’t that straightforward. Someone earning the $11.45 minimum wage for Saskatchewan for example, is not necessarily worse off than another person earning $14.25 in Ontario.

Why? Firstly, the cost of living varies across the provinces. And to some extent, the minimum wage rates reflect the level of economic activities in each province.

But in most instances, these rates are below the living wage in the province. According to Ontario Living Wage, “a living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community.”

And as shown in the table here, the current legislated minimum wage is no where close to covering the basic expenses of Ontario residents – especially for those living in the Toronto area.

Minimum Wage in Ontario Increase 2021

The general minimum wage will increase by 10 cents effective October 1, 2021. This would bring the minimum wage in Ontario to $14.35 for the general category.

All the specialized minimum wage rates will also increase effective October 1, 2021 as shown in the table below.

Employee CategoryCurrent RatesRates Effective October 1, 2022
General Minimum Wage$14.25 per hour$14.35 per hour
Liquor Servers Minimum Wage$12.45 per hour$12.55 per hour
Student Minimum Wage$13.40 per hour$13.50 per hour
Homeworkers Wage Rates$15.70 per hour$15.80 per hour
Hunting & Fishing Guides Min. WageLess than 5 hours: $71.30
5 or more hours: $142.60
Less than 5 hours: $71.75
5 or more hours: $143.55
Wilderness guides min. wageLess than 5 hours: $71.30
5 or more hours: $142.60
Less than 5 hours: $71.75
5 or more hours: $143.55

These increases are benchmarked against the Ontario Consumer Price Index for 2020 as laid down in the Making Ontario Open for Business Act

Going forward, the minimum wage will now increase annually in line with the consumer price index (a measure of inflation) for the previous year.


FAQs: Ontario Minimum Wage

Does the minimum wage apply to all employees in Ontario?

While the general minimum wage rate applies to most employees in Ontario, employees in certain industries have exemptions and special rules that govern how much they can make per hour. Check this page to check the job categories and industries not covered.

Will the Ontario minimum wage increase in 2021?

The Ontario minimum wage will be going up in 2021. Effective October 1, 2021, the minimum wage rate will increase by $0.10 or 10 cents for both the general and specialized minimum wage rates. Per the new rules, an increase will be announced on or before April of each year (but effective in October) going forward.

What is the minimum wage for students in Ontario?

Students in Ontario that are aged 18 or below and work less than 28 hours per week have a minimum wage rate of $13.40 per hour. The rate will go up by $0.10 by October 1, 2021 to $13.50. Older students or those working longer hours can earn more.

What is liquor server’s minimum wage in Ontario?

The minimum wage for Servers in Ontario is currently $12.45 per hour but going up to $12.55 per hour by October 2021. It is much lower than the general minimum wage in the province because of the tips and gratuities they receive as part of their job.

What happens if the minimum wage increases partway through an employee’s pay period?

The employee’s total pay for the pay period will be based on both minimum wage rates. The payroll computation will be done as if there were 2 separate periods and the different rates applied. Take an employee with a bi-weekly pay period as an example. If the October 2021 increase becomes effective mid-way through their pay period, the first week will be paid at $14.25 per hour and the second week at $14.35 per hour.

Does Ontario have the highest minimum wage rate in Canada?

Ontario has one of the highest minimum wage rates in Canada, but it lags 3 other provinces, namely Nunavut ($16), British Columbia ($15.20) and Alberta ($15).

Why do we have minimum wage rates?

Minimum wage legislations provide the lowest rate an employer can pay its employees. One of the main reasons why they’re important is that they protect non-unionized workers in unskilled jobs and ensures everyone gets a “fair pay”.

Conclusion

Hope you found this guide to the Ontario minimum wage helpful. To conclude, remember that the rates above are just a minimum. You can always ask and bargain for more.

Also, check that the minimum wage rates are applicable to you and your industry. The Ontario government has a great tool here to help with that.

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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