Salary increases in the West top the East

Conference Board salary outlook pegs national average at 3%.

February 12, 2013   by PLANT STAFF

Salary gains in Canada to average 3% in 2013.

OTTAWA — The oil and gas sector is pushing up compensation gains in Alberta and Saskatchewan past the national average, Ontario is below and the percentage increase for non-union salaries will exceed what unionized employees received in 2012, says the Conference Board of Canada.

Salary gains continue in Alberta and Saskatchewan will be about 4% this year, compared to 3% nationally, according to the Conference Board’s Mid-Year Pulse Check.

“Salaries in oil and gas this year are rising slightly faster than we projected, and labour markets in western Canada are tightening. We have heard from natural resources firms that virtually all of them are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need,” said Ian Cullwick, vice-president, leadership and human resources research for the Ottawa-based research organization.


Salary projections were revised upwards in Saskatchewan (4%) and Alberta (3.9%), while projections were revised downward for Quebec (2.7%), Ontario (2.5%), and BC (2.5%).

Here are some highlights:

• Average wage increases for unionized employees closed the year at 1.9%, down slightly from the 2.1% projected last fall. Wage settlements in 2013 will increase in the private sector (projected 2.3%), but decrease in the public sector from a forecast of 1.8% in the summer to 1.6%.

• The oil and gas sector continues to project the highest average salary increases, at 4.5%, up from 4.2% last fall.

• Most industry salary projections have changed little since last year, but more than half of the companies in the food, beverage, and tobacco industries revised salary increases down from 2.9% to 2.3%.

• More than two-thirds of respondents said economic conditions in 2013 will be comparable to those of 2012. A quarter think business conditions are likely to improve, while only 7% believe that conditions will deteriorate in 2013.

• Most organizations (76%) are planning to incentive pay for 2013 based on 2012 performance, while 4% said there will be no payouts. Incentive targets for the remaining 21% are not clear.

The Conference Board conducted its mid-year pulse check survey in December, which gathered replies from 237 organizations, representing a response rate of 59% of the 401 organizations that completed the Compensation Planning Outlook survey in the summer.

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