Club House for Chefs

Restaurants Canada welcomes confirmation of BC minimum wage rise

August 24 2017

Restaurants Canada says it is relieved that the new British Columbia government won’t interfere with the previously-announced 50 cent increase to BC's general minimum wage and liquor server wage.

From September 15, the general minimum wage will increase from $10.85 to $11.35, while the liquor server wage will jump from $9.60 to $10.10.

Restaurants Canada - which represents 30,000 restaurants, bars and other foodservice businesses - insists it wasn’t against the concept of raising the minimum wage further but believes establishments hasn’t been given enough notice to prepare.

As such, the group had fears that restaurants and bars would’ve been forced lay off staff or absorb the higher wage bill by upping prices, which could discourage people from dining out, in turn resulting in staff reductions.

'Wrong time'

Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s vice president for Western Canada, said that the association “supports reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure our employees keep up with the cost of living, are announced well in advance to give businesses time to adjust, and do not trigger large menu price increases or a reduction in entry-level employment”.

He added: "We're concerned when governments move too quickly and at the wrong time, as it hurts businesses, customers and employees.”

Mr von Schellwitz said the group looked forward to working with the new government and Fair Wages Commission on future minimum wage increases that raise salaries without costing entry-level employment opportunities.

British Columbia's restaurant industry directly employs 174,000 British Columbians and has total annual sales of $13 billion.

Ontario

Meanwhile, over in Ontario, proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 over the space of 18 months is putting 187,000 jobs at risk - 17,300 of which are in the restaurant and hotel industries, Restaurants Canada claims.

This move would double inflation, increase household costs for consumer goods and services by $1,300 a year and increase deficits for all levels of government.

History lends plenty of credibility to the claims. In Alberta, an arbitrary push for a $15 minimum wage saw more than 4,700 hospitality industry workers lose their jobs in 2016 alone, while youth unemployment spiked to over 14 per cent.

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