The minimum wage is one of the most talked about employment laws, as it is something that overtly affects so many people in Canada. Depending on what province you are in and on your employment contracts, you may have a different minimum wage compared to Ontario (which is the focus of this post).

As of October 1st, 2022, a new law took effect in which increased the Ontario general minimum wage from $15 per hour to $15.50 per hour. It is an increase of 3.33%, which is to help mitigate the impact of rising costs of living and inflation. Some of these costs include the fundamentals such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, and childcare.

This minimum standard (along with all other minimum employment standards) is set out in the Employment Standards Act (ESA), and its corresponding regulations. However, it is important for both employers and employees to understand that the general minimum wage does not apply to all ‘minimum wage workers’. There are other special categories of employees who have different minimum wage rates. Section 23.1(1) of the ESA states the special category employees and their corresponding minimum wage rate:

  • Students under the age of 18 years old who work less than 28 hours per week during the school year, or work during the summer break
    • $14.60 per hour (previously $14.10 per hour)
  • Hunting and fishing guides who work less than 5 consecutive hours per day
    • $77.60 per hour (previously $75 per hour)
  • Hunting and fishing guides who work 5 or more hours per day (consecutive or not)
    • $155.25 per hour (previously $150.05 per hour).
  • For employees who are homeworkers (note: homeworkers who are under the age of 18 must be paid the homeworker minimum wage, not the student minimum wage)
    • $17.05 per hour (previously $16.50)

Also notable (although it is not new law) is that there are a number of exceptions to minimum wage laws. The following is a list of practitioners who are exempt from minimum age (among other employment standards):

  • Architects and architecture students
  • Lawyers and law students
  • Professional engineers and engineering students
  • Accountants and accounting students
  • Surveying and surveying students
  • Veterinarians and veterinarian students
  • Chiropodists and chiropodist students
  • Chiropractors and chiropractor students
  • Dentists and dental students
  • Massage therapists and massage therapist students
  • Physiotherapists and physiotherapist students
  • Doctors and medical students
  • Optometrists and optometry students
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy students
  • Psychologists and psychologist students
  • Naturopaths and naturopathy students
  • Teachers and teachers in training
  • Commercial fishers
  • Real estate salespeople and brokers
  • Farmers whose employment is directly related to the primary production of
    • Eggs, milk, grain, seeds, fruit, vegetables, maple products, honey, tobacco, herbs, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, deer, elk, ratites, bison, game birds, wild boar, cultured fish

Whether you are an employer or employee, if you are working in one of these positions, it is important to understand the general $15.50 minimum wage does not apply to you or your employees.