TORONTO — The Wynne government’s recently announced changes to the wage structure in Ontario have become a source of significant concern within the province’s foodservice and hospitality sectors.

The announced changes will see minimum wage increase from $11.40/hour to $14/hour, effective Jan. 1, 2018 (a 22.8-per-cent increase), with a subsequent increase to $15/hour in 2019. In industries — such as the restaurant industry — where profit margins are thin, such a hike is being characterized as “astronomical” and unfair.

There are mounting concerns that a $15/hour minimum wage will lead to a loss of jobs — especially part-time jobs — and lowering of youth employment rates.

“[This] 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,” says James Rilett, Ontario vice-president with Restaurants Canada. “There is no question this will lead to fewer jobs, fewer hours and fewer employers.”

The province has also proposed several other changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, including equal pay for part-time, contract and temporary workers, an increase in vacation and personal-leave benefits and more rigid scheduling rules. The plan also changes union rules, making it easier for workers in certain sectors, including temporary workers, building-services workers, to unionize. Complete details of the proposed changes are available here.


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