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Ont. labour reform bill will burden restaurants, says association


Toronto – The recent passage of Bill 148, Ontario’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, will have severe consequences for the food-service sector in the province according to research and consultation undertaken by Restaurants Canada and other industry organizations.


The legislation will place an estimated more than 185,000 jobs at risk, including at least 17,000 jobs in food service, said a news release by Restaurants Canada, which represents 30,000 restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers.

“This should have been rolled out with an appropriate timeline to allow operators time to adjust to the costs and the change,” said Steve Virtue, interim vice-president for the association. “In a survey of our members, as many as 25 per cent have suggested they will be forced to close their doors as a result of this legislation.”

The association said research indicates costs associated with the bill’s implementation will increase the net burden on the restaurants by roughly $1.8 billion.

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Restaurants Canada advocated to have the changes implemented over a longer period of time to help restaurateurs adjust to the new rules and costs. “This has never been about minimum wage. Our members support the thousands of talented staff who help to make this sector as exciting as it is, but the ability of the sector to adjust to these costs in such a short timeframe is going to be extremely difficult,” Virtue said.

Of the total cost burden on restaurateurs, roughly 58 per cent will be due to wage adjustments, according to data cited by Restaurants Canada. The other 42 per cent are associated with labour reforms and changes to employment standards. The total increase of minimum wage alone will be 31.6 per cent for operators in an 18-month period.