P.E.I. leads Canada in wage growth

Jim Day
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

FILE PHOTO: Jim Sentance, associate professor of economics at UPEI.

Healthy economy helped province enjoy largest wage growth countrywide

A comparatively healthy economy in P.E.I. has helped the province enjoy the largest wage growth in the country over the past year, says a labour economics expert.

"At the moment I think the P.E.I. economy is doing relatively well compared to other provinces. Exports and tourism are doing well,'' says Jim Sentance, associate professor of economics at UPEI.

P.E.I. has led the country with wages jumping 3.2 per cent in a year, according to Statistics Canada data.

The province's wage growth, however, is made easier by the fact it's starting low. At $805 a week, P.E.I.'s average earnings are about 15 per cent below the national average of $950 a week.

But the province is heading in the right direction, notes Sentance.

"I think it may be a bit of a trend,'' he says.

"It's just sort of continuing to try to build on our strengths. It helps if we can diversify the economy a little bit.''

Sentance notes the province has had a fairly good couple of years in manufacturing.

P.E.I. also grew its employment rolls by 1.2 per cent over the last year by adding roughly 700 actual new positions.

And a number of those jobs pay a decent wage.

For example, Invesco, an independent global investment management firm in Charlottetown, has been ramping up its workforce over the past year.

Erin McGrath-Gaudet, P.E.I. director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says the wage growth numbers are encouraging, but she still approaches the data with a bit of caution.

"We do see average wage results fluctuate both up (usually) and down, but an upward trend is encouraging,'' she said. But, she added, she is not surprised P.E.I. remains below the national average.

McGrath-Gaudet says the hike in average wages in P.E.I. coincides with the reasonably good small business expectations seen in the province throughout 2015.

"Typically, when businesses are doing well, wages respond,'' she explained.

"Our members in P.E.I. typically say that the first thing that they do with extra money in their business is to increases wages.''

Mary Boyd of the P.E.I. Coalition for Poverty Eradication Strategy says the wage increase is positive, but the overall wage picture in the province is not cause for rejoicing.

"We still have such a long road ahead for (wage) parity that I don't think it's a big deal (to lead the country in wage growth over one year),'' she says.

The wage growth in Prince Edward Island is also being helped at the lowest end of the pay spectrum.

Sentance notes P.E.I. has been as aggressive as any province in raising the minimum wage.

And that will continue this year. Minimum wage will increase by 50 cents over the course of 2016.

The wage is currently $10.50 an hour. It will go up twice in 2016, to $10.75 on June 1 and $11 on Oct. 1.

That would make the minimum wage in P.E.I. the highest currently in Atlantic Canada.



Organizations: UPEI, Statistics Canada, Invesco Canadian Federation of Independent Business P.E.I. Coalition for Poverty Eradication Strategy

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada, Charlottetown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

    February 08, 2016 - 08:43

    It's nice to see that wages were up 3.2%, if that is actually correct, but we are still $145.a week, or 16% lower than the Canadian average. Along with that, we still have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Wages on PEI are like the weather here, wait 15 minutes.

  • sentance
    February 07, 2016 - 15:08

    For what its worth, I would agree with Mary Boyd that given the low level of income here we have a long way to go yet. Sorry if the notion that things are getting a bit better upsets people. @William, the number of unemployed on the Island actually went down over the past year, and contrary to popular belief that includes people who have exhausted their EI benefits.

    • intobed
      February 08, 2016 - 02:11

      No doubt you are eager to tell everyone this rise in wages is because of the introduction of the hated HST, and if the government raises the HST this budget we will all be rich. I am very surprised you still have your job.

    • sentance
      February 10, 2016 - 11:04

      Actually intobed, since you asked, Jack Mintz did suggest in his analysis of the likely effects of the HST that rising wages would be a result so there might well be a connection. I'm not sure that a raise in the HST would make us all rich though, it was the savings for companies from getting rebates on sales taxes they pay under the HST that were to lead to passing some of that on to wages (and some to lower prices). Raising the HST further wouldn't have that effect.

  • Cromwell
    February 07, 2016 - 13:32

    It is extremely irritating that such an evidently concocted report is provided by an 'Associate Professor of economics at UPEI', an individual who has apparently has absolutely no basic understanding in the reality that the average wage-earning Islander faces on a daily basis. However, given his obvious inexperience and political bent, perhaps he should consider a career in politics - it worked, at least for a short period, for Mr. MacLauchlan.

    • Nitpicker
      February 08, 2016 - 00:35

      What's also irritating is the number of posters whose only counterpoint when facing information that doesn't jive with what they believe (or want to believe), is to accuse the source of some level of bias. I guess that's far easier than actually coming up with a real argument.

  • William
    February 07, 2016 - 11:00

    Statistically, you say that wages may be going up but in reality the unemployment is as well. It's amazing how a person or group can fudge the numbers in order to make it look like the economy is on the rebound but in fact there are more unemployed workers on the island than ever before. Please, don't try to sugar coat the real condition here. You are also not accounting for the people who have run out of employment insurance and are struggling to make ends meet.. We are living in a very sad time.