The meteoric rise of the minimum wage across Canada has struck another cord in the business sector.
On Wednesday, an Ontario Tim Horton’s made cuts to employee benefits and paid breaks after the provinces minimum wage increased to over $14 per hour.
To make matters worse, the move was made by the children of Tim Horton’s founders.
The recent move has been met with very little fanfare from several groups including the BC Federation of Labour.
“I think it’s short-sighted in terms of retaining their employees and treating their employees well. I think it’s mean-spirited frankly and I would challenge these owners to live on minimum wage,” says Irene Lanzinger, BCFED President.
“They are expecting to continue to pay people poverty wages to make profits in their business and that’s not a reasonable expectation for a business owner, they should pay their employees well understanding that that’s good for their employees, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for children to grow up in a household where they don’t live in poverty. These are things that business owner should recognize and not take these kinds of mean-spirited actions.”
The drastic measure has led many in people in BC to wonder if the same type of treatment could be coming to businesses including Tim Hortons in the province.
However, Lanzinger doesn’t buy the argument on whether this could become a trend.
“I don’t think it will be a trend. I mean it may happen on a few occasions that people will do this and I suspect these business owners are experiencing a significant backlash and I hope they are, as they should but hopefully employers and businesses in British Columbia will recognize it’s good for the economy to pay decent wages to workers.”
“Frankly, $15 an hour, 14 now in Ontario, these are not living wages living wages. In British Columbia, living wages range from $17 an hour to $21 an hour,” added Lanzinger.
Since the slash was made public Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has accused the Tim Hortons heirs of bullying their employees.
To make matters worse, the Bank of Canada is estimating about 60,000 could be lost by 2019 due to the increases in minimum wage in Canada.
The BCFED, on the other hand, doesn’t buy into their logic.
“If you look closely at the Bank of Canada Report, it’s a bit uncertain about the impact on jobs, they say it could be 30,000 and you have to understand there is a compensatory job creation that takes place at the same time.”
“They don’t analyse the positive impact on workers in that study, which is one of the main benefits of increasing the minimum wage.”
So is there any way that a $15 minimum wage could solve one problem but create another.
“Not at all, because if that were true we would never raise the minimum wage and we need to because there are hundreds of thousands of workers who work full-time and are living in poverty. We have not seen this impact in the past, and in this province, we raised the minimum wage to eight dollars to $10.25 in rather short order and unemployment went down in that time.”
This fall, the BCFED urged the province’s Fair Wages Commission to raise the wage to by 2019 instead of the NDP’s original platform of 2021 so the province could be more in line with Alberta and Ontario who plan to increase the minimum wage under a similar timeline.