Report evaluates Nova Scotia labour standards, identifies shortcomings and recommends reforms

August 1, 2019

(HALIFAX, NS)—A new report, A Rising Tide to Lift All Boats: Recommendations for Advances to Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Nova Scotia office examines how Nova Scotia’s protections for workers compare to other provinces and territories in Canada.  

“Nova Scotia falls well short on the most important and far-reaching of the Labour Standards Code’s provisions, including those pertaining to hours of work, overtime provisions, vacation, minimum wage and statutory holidays,” says Rebecca Casey, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Acadia University, summarizing her report’s findings. “Many of these protections are not even available to workers in a long list of occupations and industries in the province.”

The number of workers relying on the protections of the Labour Standards Code is increasing with the growth in non-unionized and precarious work. Certain groups of workers are overrepresented in precarious employment, including women, younger people, racial minorities and recent immigrants.

Larry Haiven, professor emeritus in the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary's University and co-author of the 2012 CCPA-NS report, Labour Standards Reform in Nova Scotia, states: “Employment has become more precarious and more workers are relying on provincial and territorial labour standards legislation, yet it is clear that legislation has not kept pace with changing workplaces. There remains much to be done to ensure all employees are adequately protected at work.”

The report makes the following recommendations for how Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code can be strengthened:

  • Removing the list of exemptions and special rules to ensure all workers are protected.
  • Reducing the work week to 40 hours.
  • Increasing the minimum vacation time to three weeks paid vacation (or 6% in lieu).
  • Increasing the number of statutory holidays to nine.
  • Expanding legislation around pay equity, which currently accounts only for sex, to include employment status, race or ethnicity, ability or disability, and age.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminating the inexperienced minimum wage rate.
  • Increasing the time period for employees to file complaints to two years and strengthening enforcement by increasing fine amounts and using fines, prosecutions and imprisonment more frequently.

“It is challenging to compete with other jurisdictions when the minimum wage rate in Nova Scotia trails most other provinces and employees do not have the same access to leaves and vacation time as found in other jurisdictions,” says Casey. “Now is the time for Nova Scotia to re-evaluate the Labour Standards Code.”


For more information, and to arrange interviews, contact Laura Cutmore, CCPA-NS Community Engagement Co-ordinator, at 902-700-4748 (cell) or [email protected]

A Rising Tide to Lift All Boats: Recommendations for Advances to Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code is available for download on the website.