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October 02, 2021

Employers stealing from low wage workers: study

With a recession that’s seen thousands of workers replace well-paying jobs with ones at or near minimum wage, is it time to boost minimum wage rates? 

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, roughly 5 per cent of Canadians works for minimum wage or less. But a great many more work for only a few cents more than the minimum, CCPA maintains.

And, students aside, most of these are displaced adults trying to support their families, or older workers looking to supplement their pension.

Although minimum wage levels have increased in some provinces, the pace of change is nothing short of glacial.

Earlier this month, New Brunswick raised its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, making B.C. the lowest paying province at $8 an hour. Nunavut has the highest minimum wage at $10, followed by Ontario at $9.50 (scheduled to hit $10.25 in March) and Saskatchewan at $9.25. 

What’s really hard to swallow though is how such low-wage workers seem to be routinely denied even this measly stipend.

According to a new study, the average low-wage worker is regularly cheated out of as much as 15 per cent of his pay cheque by employers who pay less than minimum wage, refuse overtime pay, require off-the-clock work, or prevent workers compensation claims – all of which is illegal.

More than two thirds of the workers surveyed had experienced at least one pay-related violation within the previous workweek, the study says.

76 per cent of workers who had worked overtime were not paid the overtime rate, as required by law. And more than two thirds of workers entitled to lunch breaks had either not received them, had them shortened or interrupted, or had simply continued to work through their break.

Tell us: Is the minimum wage reasonable? Have you ever been stiffed this way?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...