Association urges liquor server and youth wages in Alberta

Canadian Pizza
October 10, 2018
By Canadian Pizza
Edmonton – Following the recent increase of Alberta’s minimum wage to $15, Restaurants Canada is urging the Alberta government to reintroduce the liquor server wage and to introduce a youth wage at $13.60.

The Oct. 1 rise represents a rise of nearly 50 per cent (63 per cent for liquor servers) over the past four years, Restaurants Canada said in a news release.

This steep increase to labour costs is placing pressure on many of the province’s foodservice operators, according to the association.

Steady increases to the minimum wage since 2015 have already contributed to the following setbacks for Alberta’s foodservice sector:

• The number of workers employed in the foodservice and accommodation sector has dropped by 13,300 since a peak of 159,600 in February 2015 to 146,300 today.
• Foodservice workers experienced a 5.1 per cent decrease in their average weekly hours between 2015 and 2018.
• The average number of workers per unit dropped from 13 to 11.7 between 2015 and 2018.
• Adjusted for menu inflation of 3.3 per cent, real foodservice sales from January to July 2018 were 1.6 per cent lower than during the same period in 2017.
• Foodservice operators have been struggling more and more each year; from 2015 to 2018, there was a 9.1 per cent decline in the average inflation-adjusted sales per unit.

“People are pointing to restaurant sales going up and up and saying the industry is doing great. But really, that’s just menu inflation, and consumers are paying the difference,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice-president, Western Canada. “In reality, many operators are taking losses while figuring out how to adjust their budgets — and with this latest labour cost increase, they’ll have nothing left to cut.”

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