Ontario Minimum Wage Increases: Everything You Need to Know

As always, to make sure your business is prepared and stays in compliance, we recommend that you discuss these upcoming changes to the Ontario minimum wage with your accountant and lawyer. This article does not constitute legal advice.

What is the minimum wage in Ontario for 2023?

Effective October 1, 2023, Ontario’s minimum wage is $16.55 per hour for most employees, which is $.75 less than the current federal minimum wage. However, the federal minimum wage in Canada only applies to employees working in industries regulated by the government, such as banking and transportation, and provinces set the minimum wage for all other industries. However, there are exceptions and other considerations:

  • Liquor servers must be paid $16.55. On January 1, 2022, the liquor server minimum wage became equal to the current general minimum wage.

  • Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides minimum wage increased to $82.85 for shifts of five hours consecutively or less.

  • Wilderness guides minimum wage for five hours or more, regardless of consecutive nature, is $165.75.

  • Homeworkers minimum wage is now $18.20/hour.

  • Students (age 17 and under) must earn $15.60/hour when working up to 28 hours/week during the school year, during a school holiday, or over summer break.

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Is the minimum wage going up in Ontario?

Ontario’s minimum wage rates are subject to increase each year on October 1.

How should small business owners prepare for changes?

Minimum wage increases are great news for employees but not necessarily for business owners. If you’re worried about how upcoming changes might affect your business finances:

  • Audit your expenses: Check your cash flow in detail to ensure you avoid common business mistakes and create a hiring plan that you can afford. In some cases, you may find that hiring temporary workers as needed is less expensive than taking on full-time regular staff.

  • Make sure you hire and keep the right employees: Replacing an employee costs a lot. You decrease the total cost associated with recruiting by retaining valuable employees. Look for candidates who have good track records, come recommended, and fit in with the company culture. Once they’re onboarded, make sure you build a relationship and provide paths for your employees to grow and thrive; it makes it more likely they’ll stay in their roles.

  • Increase prices: Increasing prices is a great way to boost your cash flow. According to Square’s 2023 Future of Retail report, given the current economic climate, 88% of consumers say they’d understand if their favourite local business raised its prices.

  • Update tech: Consider automating certain aspects of the work and find ways to reduce production costs. Investing in small business team management software can help free up your time, better schedule your employees, and, best of all, is easy to learn.

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