The Minimum Wage In Ontario In 2021

minimum wage ontario

The Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) sets out the rules about minimum wage in Ontario.

On October 1, 2020, the ESA was amended to increase Ontario’s minimum wage rates. The new general minimum wage for 2020 and into 2021 in Ontario is $14.25 per hour. This is an increase of 25 cents per hour from the old minimum wage, which was in place until September 30, 2020.

The following chart shows the new minimum wage rules in Ontario beginning on October 1, 2020:

Minimum wage typeMinimum wage rate after October 1, 2020
General minimum wage$14.25 per hour
Student minimum wage$13.40 per hour
Liquor servers minimum wage$12.45 per hour
Hunting and fishing guides minimum wage$71.30
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

$142.60
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive
Homeworkers wage$15.70 per hour
Wilderness guides minimum wage$71.30
Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

$142.60
Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive

What is a Homeworker?

The ESA defines a homeworker as, “an individual who performs work for compensation in premises occupied by the individual primarily as residential quarters but does not include an independent contractor.” In layman’s’ terms, a homeworker is an employee who works from home for an employer for pay in any kind of work (for example, online research, preparing food for resale, sewing, telephone soliciting, manufacturing, word processing).

To be clear, a homeworker is not a domestic worker like a nanny. This is because a nanny works outside of their own home, whereas a homeworker is someone who works out of their own home.

In the age of Covid-19, isn’t everyone who works from home, on a non-temporary basis, a “homeworker” who should therefore be entitled to the increased minimum wage? Yes, we believe that it the case, although there is no precedent on this issue one way or the other, yet. If someone believes they are a homeworker who is paid the general minimum wage, not the homeworker minimum wage, they should speak with their employer. Failing that, they should call the Ministry of Labour to investigate.

What about Domestic Workers?

Domestic workers like nannies must be paid the general minimum wage ($14.25). There is no lesser wage in Ontario for domestic workers.

However, if the employer provides room and/or board (meals) to the domestic worker, they can deduct set, maximum amounts for room only, meals only or room and meals in the calculation of the employee’s pay.

Set amounts if providing room only

  • $31.70 maximum per week, for a private room
  • $0.00 for a non-private room

Set amounts if providing meals only

  • $2.55 for each meal
  • $53.55 maximum per week for all meals

Set amounts if providing both room and meals

  • $85.25 maximum per week for a private room with all meals
  • $53.55 maximum per week for a non-private room with all meals

Example of how to calculate room and/or board

Lois works 40 hours per week as a nanny. She must be paid the general minimum wage, which is $14.25. If Lois works a 40 hour work week, she is entitled to $570 in pay per week (40 x $14 .25).

However, Lois’ employer provides her with a private room and meals all week. Therefore, Lois’ employer need only provide Lois with $484.75 for the 40 hours worked because the employer has already provided Lois with $85.25 worth of room and board, which are the equivalent to wages.

Minimum Wage and Commission Employees

If an employee is paid entirely or partly on commission in Ontario, the employer must pay the employe an amount to at least the minimum wage for each hour the employee has worked.

If an employee has earned no commissions one week, he is still entitled to the minimum wage for all hours worked. If, on the other hand, an employee has earned over $570 (40 x $14.25), for example, in a 40-hour workweek, the employer will not need to make up any difference. The ESA does not require that any amount above minimum wage is paid in Ontario.

Future Minimum Wage in Ontario

The Ford government cancelled the Wynne government’s planned $15 minimum wage.

However, there is still a minimum wage hike planned for 2021 at this time in Ontario. The Ford government legislated that every October, the minimum wage will be adjusted by the Consumer Price Index, which is usually around 1% per year, which would be about 5 cents extra.

Accordingly, it is not unreasonable to assume that the new minimum wage in Ontario in October 2021 could be $14.30.

Dutton Employment Law is a Toronto employment law group advising employees and employers in Ontario. Call for a free consultation with an employment law professional.