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Alberta restaurants brace for large labour cost increase: Restaurants Canada


Edmonton – Restaurants Canad is asking the Alberta government to slow down the pace of its planned minimum wage increases, the first of which comes Oct. 1.

Alberta restaurants are bracing for significant labour cost increases that come into effect with the increase, the association said in a news release, noting that the $1.00 rise in the general minimum wage is 10 times inflation and the $1.50 rise in the liquor server wage is 16 times inflation.

“Restaurant owners aren’t opposed to minimum wage increases, but they want them to be introduced at a pace that’s manageable for labour-intensive businesses operating on very thin profit margins,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president Western Canada for Restaurants Canada, in the release.

Since last May, when the new Alberta government promised a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2018, Alberta’s economy has deteriorated significantly. Employment Insurance claims increased by 72 per cent between July 2014 and July 2015, and the unemployment rate increased to six per cent in August 2015 as compared to 5.2 per cent in August 2014.

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“Tomorrow’s minimum wage increase will undoubtedly lead to higher prices and fewer job opportunities. It comes at a bad time for Albertans who are struggling to cope with the worst economic decline in years,” von Schellwitz said. “Our members are once again asking the government to slow down the pace of these planned increases, and to work with us to find ways to grow the labour market, not shrink it.”

Restaurants Canada said it will monitor the repercussions of tomorrow’s increases and will work with the Alberta government on solutions to protect employment, particularly for young people looking for their first jobs.

Foodservice Facts:

Number of foodservice businesses in Alberta: 10,200

Number of people employed in the restaurant industry: 149,700

Number of young Albertans age 15-24 employed in the restaurant industry: 58,000