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Slightly Higher Salary Increases Expected For Canadian Workers in 2019

Ottawa, October 31, 2018 — The average pay increase for non-unionized Canadian employees is projected to be 2.6 per cent in 2019, up slightly from the 2.4 per cent average increase received this year, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s Compensation Planning Outlook 2019.

“Over the past few years, we have seen wage increases among the lowest they have been in the past two decades. We are now seeing an improvement and compensation planners are looking to offer increases in 2019 that remain ahead of inflation,” said Allison Cowan, Director, Total Rewards, HR and Labour Relations Research, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • The average pay increase for non-unionized employees is projected to be 2.6 per cent next year.
  • Voluntary turnover rates are on the rise and nearly two-thirds of employers report challenges recruiting and retaining employees with specific skills.
  • The professions in highest demand include IT specialists, management, engineering, skilled trades, and sales and marketing.
Projected increases are highest in the food, beverage, and tobacco products industry (3.0 per cent) and the oil and gas and technology industries (2.9 per cent). The lowest average increases are expected in the health sector at 1.6 per cent. Regionally, Saskatchewan has the highest projected base salary increase at 2.9 per cent. The lowest increases are expected in Manitoba at 2.3 per cent.

map of Canada showing expected pay increases in 2019 by province

Voluntary turnover increased in the past year, averaging 8.1 per cent, compared with 7.1 per cent in 2017. At sixty-four per cent, the number of organizations experiencing challenges recruiting or retaining specific skills is slightly more than the 57 per cent who reported the same last year. Challenges vary by industry, with the most acute attraction and retention challenges experienced in wholesale trade (91 per cent), accommodation, tourism, food, entertainment and personal services (88 per cent), and construction (75 per cent).

The professions in highest demand continue to be IT specialists, skilled trades, management, and engineering. Sales and marketing now round out the top five with the demand for accounting/finance specialists decreasing.

The 37th edition of the Compensation Planning Outlook summarizes the results of The Conference Board of Canada’s annual compensation survey and forecast. It also provides information about the pay environment, union and non-union pay increases, labour market challenges and key human capital metrics such as turnover, absenteeism and retirement rates. Conducted in June 2018, a total of 368 organizations participated in this research.

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