[Canada] Manitoba's Unusual Minimum Wage Journey

Manitoba’s minimum wage increased by 30 cents to $11.65. Like other recent increases, this was in line with inflation rates. But historically Manitoba’s minimum wage laws have been rather unusual, Global News reports and reflects on their history.

Manitoba’s first minimum wage was set in 1921 at 25 cents an hour, according to Manitoba Employment Standards’ Historical Summary of Minimum Wage Rates in Manitoba, but the statute only applied to women (link via original reporting).

A minimum wage for boys under 18 was added ten years later and by 1934 the statute in the province had been amended to include male workers.

From the 1930s Manitoba had separate minimum wages set for urban and rural workers. Workers in the city were paid four cents more an hour than rural workers.

A separate youth minimum wage was instituted by 1945, paying 20 cents an hour for males and increasing to 30 cents after six months of employment.

By the end of the 1940s the minimum wage for men was the same across the board, regardless of their location but separate, lower, wages were paid to women depending on whether they were urban or rural workers and employed full or part-time.

The separate wage for women was in place until 1960 when both sexes gained the same minimum wage, yet the urban and rural distinctions returned. Young workers’ wages remained at 48 cents per hour until 1967, despite adult wages increasing every few years.

The rural/urban discrepancy had reportedly gone by late 1967 when all adults received a minimum wage of $1.10 per hour. But a separate minimum wage for young workers continued. And lasted until April 1988 when youth and adult minimum wages were paid at $4.70 an hour.

Despite this month’s increase to $11.65 per hour, Manitoba is still behind many other provinces and territories in the minimum wage rate it pays. $12 per hour or above is paid by Alberta, BC, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Yukon.