Manitoba to scrap minimum wage exemption

Existing permits for people with disabilities will continue, provided companies consult with employees, families

Manitoba is introducing an amendment to eliminate an exemption that allows employees with disabilities to be paid less than the minimum wage, announced Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard, who is responsible for persons with disabilities.

Under the proposed amendment, the province would no longer issue permits to allow employees to be paid below minimum wage based on a physical or mental disability.

There are less than 20 permits currently in place and those will be allowed to continue, based on consultations with the individuals and their families. In the mid-1990s, there were over 200 such exemptions granted.

“This change is the result of extensive discussions with disability rights organizations and will ensure that persons with disabilities are treated fairly in the workplace, and that our work is equally valued,” said Howard.

The labour management review committee, which is made up of labour and business representatives, reviewed and unanimously supported the repeal of the provision and the recommendation that permits already in effect be allowed to continue.

“The amendments are part of our much broader goal to achieve full and equal inclusion of persons with disabilities in Manitoba’s labour force,” said Howard. “We estimate Manitoba’s labour force will need 75,000 additional workers over the next eight years and persons with disabilities are one of several groups we know can help meet our future labour market needs.”

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