How expensive is life in Canada? A 2019-2020 cost of living review by province and territory

Chapter 3: Average wages in Canada

Published: 30-12-2019

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Pvtistes.net

Average wages in Canada

Cost of living is directly tied to wages. If you make minimum wage, living in an expensive city will sound completely unaffordable. However, on a better salary, you can make it work and find prices just average. Now if you manage to get a good job in a low cost of living region, you will be able to afford luxuries and save money.

So, how much can you make in Canada? As little as minimum wage and maybe much more with the right combination of skills and experience. Average, median and minimum hourly wages also vary depending on the province/territory and your occupation.

For more details, read Finding a job and working in Canada (refer to the chapter How much can you expect to make? for info on wages).

Average, median and minimum wages by province/territory

Province/territory 2018 average hourly wage rates 2018 median hourly wage rates Minimum hourly wages Minimum hourly wages for employees receiving tips
Alberta $30.76 $26.67 $15 N/A
British Columbia $26.77 $23.98 $13.85 $12.70
Prince Edward Island $22.26 $19.49 $12.25 N/A
Manitoba $24.45 $21 $11.65 N/A
New Brunswick $22.89 $20 $11.50 N/A
Nova Scotia $23.59 $20 $11.55/$11.05 (depending on experience) N/A
Nunavut ≈ $35.95 (2017) $30 $13 N/A
Ontario $27.36 $23.08 $14 $12.20
Quebec $25.42 $22 $12.50 $10.05
Saskatchewan $27.46 $24.52 $11.32 N/A
Newfoundland and Labrador $25.57 $22 $11.40 N/A
Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) $34.20 (2017) $34 $13.46 N/A
Yukon ≈ $30.65 (2018) $30 $12.71 N/A

Sources: Statistic CanadaPayworks and Government of Canada.

Is there a way to guesstimate how much I could make in Canada?

Job Bank, the employment website operated by Employment and Social Development Canada, offers plenty of useful tools to research how much your occupation pays in Canada.

Jobbank Canada

From the homepage, choose Find a job and select and enter a job title. You can refine your search by adding a location, type of contract (permanent, term, seasonal or casual), part-time or full-time, education, salary range and job category. The current available job offers should give you a useful overview of the Canadian job market.

You can also use Choose a career or Explore the market for career planning and trends analysis. With the correct job title, you’ll see important and reliable data, such as high, median and low hourly wages in the industry. The tool relies on the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system—read Identify your title on the Canadian job market and find opportunities in your field to understand how it works.

Here is a sample of the data available for the 2017-2018 period. Click the links to find detailed info by province/territory.

Occupation Low wages ($/hour) Median ($/hour) High ($/hour)
Food counter attendant (CNP 6711) $11.32 $12.75 $18
Elementary school teacher’s aide (CNP 4413) $14.91 $22 $29.76
Administrative assistant – legal (CNP 1242) $15 $23 $32.97
Barman/Barmaid (CNP 6512) $11.32 $15 $25
Cashier (CNP 6611) $11.32 $12 $15.87
Carpenter (CNP 7271) $16.50 $25 $37.51
Chef (CNP 6321) $12 $17.09 $25.45
Data input clerk (CNP 1422) $13.85 $20 $30.05
Customer information service representative — retail (CNP 6552) $12 $17.50 $28.85
General office worker (CNP 1411) $14 $20.51 $30.29
Financial accountant (CNP 1111) $19.50 $33.65 $57.69
Advertising and promotion specialist (CNP 1123) $16.67 $29.91 $48.84
Cook (CNP 6322) $11.32 $14 $19.62
Illustrator and graphic designer (CNP 5241) $15 $24.04 $39.90
E-business website developer (CNP 2175) $17.25 $28.85 $45.67
Community and social services worker (CNP 4212) $14 $21.54 $33
Early childhood educator assistant (CNP 4214) $12.50 $18 $27
Light duty cleaner (CNP 6731) $11.50 $15 $21
Independent practice — registered nurse (CNP 3012) $23.36 $37.60 $46.70
Landscape architectural technician (CNP 2225) $14.50 $22.40 $38
Journalist (CNP 5123) $16.50 $30 $45
Harvest hand (CNP 8611) $11.32 $14 $20
Material handler (CNP 7452) $12 $17.50 $28
Scenic constructor — motion pictures broadcasting and performing arts (CNP 5227) $14 $21.94 $33.81
Plumber (CNP 7251) $16.80 $30 $40
Hotel front desk clerk (CNP 6525) $11.95 $15 $22
Executive assistant (CNP 1222) $17.50 $27.69 $40
Food and beverage server (dans un bar ou restaurant) (CNP 6513) $11.32 $14 $22
Laser beam machine-welder operator (CNP 7237) $17 $25 $39
Receptionist (CNP 1414) $12.50 $17.31 $25
Retail salesperson (CNP 6421) $11.32 $14 $22

Sources: Job Bank 

Okay, so what does that mean for me?

  • The median wage is the wage “in the middle.” It means that 50% of workers earn more and 50% earn below this level.
  • When the low average hourly wage is close to the median hourly wage, it means that at least half of the workers in the industry get the low average hourly rate.
  • If you don’t have much work experience at home and in Canada, it’s likely that you will get the low hourly wage.
  • If you have years of experience in your field at home (or elsewhere) but no work experience yet in Canada, you’ll probably get the median or low hourly wage. Keep in mind that work experience in Canada is very important to employers—newcomers aren’t seen as employees who have mastered Canadian business practices and etiquette.
  • If you have some work experience, you can aim for the median or high hourly wage.

Note regarding province/territory-specific chapters: We’re sharing employee wages by industry, but this data includes all aggregated wages for a given industry. Non-skilled positions can pay way below average.

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