Canadian Pizza Magazine

The Pizza Dude: Minimum wage maximum ripoff

By Roberto Vergalito   

Features Business and Operations Staffing

Minimum wage maximum ripoff

I hope all my fellow pizzaiolos had a wonderful, festive holiday and a grand New Year. Now it’s back to the normal grind.

I hope all my fellow pizzaiolos had a wonderful, festive holiday and a grand New Year. Now it’s back to the normal grind.

I, unfortunately, predict a bad future for all of us. Perhaps not immediately, but I believe that in the near future we will be confronted with some very hard times.

As small business owners, we try our best to make a good living. But what happens to us when that comfortable living becomes more difficult as times goes on?


Between the Canada Revenue Agency, provincial sales taxes for some of us, the federal goods and service tax, payroll, provincial labour boards and the Canadian Dairy Commission, the small amount of revenue that we manage to bring into our pizzerias shrinks each year before we even pay our overhead, staff and selves.

When will the government start giving back to us?

Now, there is talk here in Ontario that minimum wage is going up to $10/hour. Out in the west, our fellow pizzaiolos are seeing wage demands previously unheard of. Some restaurants are dishing out $16 an hour to the kid making greasy fries and taking orders at the drive-thru. Others have to close at lunch because they can’t find people to work the shift.

No employee working a drive-thru deserves $10/hour. And if that’s the way it goes, these $10/hour people had better be prepared to work harder than they expected, because nobody lollygags on my time and my dime.

I run a good business. But that’s exactly what it is: business. We’re here for a purpose. I try to make sure that the people who work for me learn something about workplace ethics and the value of honest labour. I don’t expect my staff to stick around until retirement, and they’re not paid that way either. But I do hope that when they move on and become the next “big shot” at whatever they do, they’ll remember those lessons from my kitchen.

As independent businesspeople, we don’t have corporate pension funds, health benefits, or swishy memberships at swanky golf clubs to keep people for life.

And because we are cash business, we are subject to over-zealous tax audits that we cannot do anything about.

To me, this seems ridiculous.

When is someone going to stand up for the small businessperson? Who is going to speak out on behalf of those of us trying to put clothes on our family’s backs and food at our table? We work hard and in the end, what’s left: someone’s hand in our pockets? Should we ask Capital One? 

When we open our businesses, we are offering employment in the community. We become part of the assessed tax base, which helps municipalities attract other businesses, grants and other financial packages.

When there is a charity calling us, do we not give?  I ask: how many free pizzas do my fellow pizzaiolos give away each year for silent auctions and fundraisers? Why is it that we are always the ones people ask for money, just because we own a business?

If we were filthy rich, we wouldn’t be working as hard and as long as we do.
Something needs to be done.

Maybe as small business owners across Canada we should form a lobby group that will stand up for us in parliament and bring attention to the fact that we deserve better.

I believe that if you take all the small businesses throughout Canada and add up all the people employed by folks like you and I, it would be a big percentage of national employment rates. If we all closed down, or fired all of the employees, how high would the unemployment rate reach?

Hey, Stephen Harper! Would you like a second term or would you like your first term cut short? Last time I checked most of us small business owners were also voters. We put you there and we can put someone else there.

And Dalton, you better pay attention too.

It’s time the small business owner got a break. We are the backbone of this country; even more now with this idea of a global economy taking manufacturing jobs overseas.

I work for a living to provide for my family. And I respect the people who come into my business on both sides of the counter.

But to tell me that some inexperienced kid is worth $10/hour just because the ministry of labour says so? Not a chance.

I’m the pizza dude.•

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