By: Brian Tsui
What is minimum wage?
Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer is legally allowed to pay an employee. Ontario has different minimum wage rates depending on the industry or job you work in. Still, the rate that applies to most employees is the general minimum wage.
Starting on January 1st, 2022, the general minimum wage in Ontario increased from $14.35 to $15.00 per hour. The rate will increase again in October 2022 to $15.50. The minimum wage rate usually increases on October 1st of any given year.
It is estimated that an average full-time worker making the general minimum wage in 2021 will see their annual earnings increase by $1,350 in 2022. 
Other types of minimum wage
In addition to the general minimum wage, certain jobs and industries will have their own minimum wage rates. These other minimum wage rates have also increased starting January 1st, 2022.
Student minimum wage
- $14.10 per hour
- This applies to students under the age of 18 who are working 28 hours a week or less while in school or working during a school break or summer holidays.
Hunting, fishing, and wilderness guides minimum wage
- $75.00 rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day or $150.05 rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive.
- This is the only minimum wage based on blocks of time instead of an hourly rate.
Homeworkers minimum wage
- $16.50 per hour
- Homeworkers are employees that perform paid work in their own homes.
- The homeworkers minimum wage is also applicable to students of any age, which means in certain cases, the student is entitled to a higher minimum wage rate ($16.50 per hour) than the student minimum wage rate ($14.10 per hour).
Am I owed minimum wage?
Through Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), entitlement to minimum wage is one of the fundamental rights given to employees; however, the ESA does not apply to independent contractors. In other words, if you are an independent contractor, it is not guaranteed you will be entitled to minimum wage. Nonetheless, as an independent contractor, you could still be entitled to minimum wage if it is stated in your contract or if you were misclassified. Misclassification essentially means as an independent contractor, you could still be deemed an employee when considering the true relationship between yourself and your employer.
Employee misclassification is becoming more common in Ontario.  Independent contractors who act more like employees have the ability to seek protection against the loss of employment benefits, such as the entitlement of minimum wage, when they have been misclassified.  If you are curious about whether you are classified as an “independent contractor” or “employee”, please check out the “Classification Tool” in MyOpenCourt. Depending on your answers, the “Classification Tool” will analyze prior cases dealing with employment classification and then be able to predict whether you are an independent contractor or employee.
Although most employees in Ontario are entitled to minimum pay, some employees will have jobs or work in certain industries that would exempt them from being qualified for any type of minimum wage. For example, if you are employed as a dentist, you would not be entitled to minimum wage. The current list of jobs and industries exempt from the right to minimum wage is extensive, and for more information, the full list can be found here.
Furthermore, in the upcoming months, MyOpenCourt is launching a “Minimum Wage Tool”, which will accurately predict if the user has a right to minimum wage and what their minimum wage rate should be.