Toronto – Ontario is proposing raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and Restaurants Canada has slammed the move.
The plan is to increase the minimum wage to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018, and $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation.
The measure is aimed at will give more than a quarter of employees in the province a pay increase and will help ensure that more workers are benefiting from Ontario’s economic growth, the government said in a news release.
“Ontario’s economy has outperformed all G7 countries in real GDP growth over the past three years, and unemployment is at a 16-year low,” the release said. “But the nature of work is also changing. People are working longer, jobs are less secure and benefits are not the same as they used to be. Many employees are working long hours and still struggling to support their families on the current minimum wage of $11.40.”
Restaurants Canada, which represents more than 37,000 restaurants, bars and food-service establishments that employ nearly 473,000 Ontarians, said the move is a betrayal of the industry’s trust.
“Just three short years ago, the Premier committed to a balanced, predictable model to set minimum wage rates,” said James Rilett, Ontario vice-president with Restaurants Canada, in a news release. “Business took her at her word and supported the changes. Little did we know that she would turn around and make a backroom deal with union leaders.”
Ontario’s minimum wage is jumping by an astronomical 22.8 per cent in January 2018, which is 10 times the rate of inflation. The total increase by January 2019 will be 31.6 per cent in just 18 months – a total hit of $1.8 billion to the province’s restaurant industry.
This represents a 31.6 per cent wage hike that will cost $47,000 per year, more than wiping out their profits.
“Today’s announcement is devastating to the thousands of small business owners who hire and train high school students, newcomers to Ontario and others looking for a first start in the labour market,” Rilett said. “There is no question this will lead to fewer jobs, fewer hours, and fewer employers.”
“The government says it wants to get kids out of their parents’ basements, but today’s announcement will have the opposite effect. We’re going to see more young people living in their parents’ basements longer.”
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