The Ontario minimum wage increase that was introduced in January continues to spark much debate. Tim Horton’s franchises in particular have been under heavy scrutiny for penalizing their employees for the wage increase. Ardent demonstrators from the Fight for $15 & Fairness campaign have gathered at many Tim Horton’s locations across the GTA to express solidarity with employees who have experienced unethical cuts to their breaks and benefits.
Businesses of various sizes and models have responded differently to the minimum wage increase. Certain employers have welcomed the wage increase with great enthusiasm and some have augmented costs by a small margin in order to adapt. However, instead of accepting responsibility for the welfare of their employees, large corporations like Tim Horton’s have made themselves seem like the victims of this policy change rather than acting as role models in the broader business world.
The insatiability of corporate willpower is the real obstacle to implementing fairer wages. Daniel Schwartz, CEO of Restaurant Brands International (the parent company of Tim Horton’s) claims to make $8,183,504 per year. The corporation is beyond capable of paying their employees a livable wage. Instead of hiding behind statistical myths, it is important to recognize the overwhelming truth: Tim Horton’s has the financial resources to strategically support all of their franchisees in making the necessary adjustments to adapt to the minimum wage increase.
Most minimum wage jobs are part-time jobs in the service sector, and many minimum wage workers juggle multiple occupations in order to make ends meet. Realistically speaking, working 35 hours per week at the previous rate of $11.60 per hour was not enough for a person to afford their own one-bedroom apartment in Toronto, let alone food, bills, transportation and the potential dental emergency. Those now making $14.00 per hour will still face an uphill battle in terms of affording the rising cost of living, but they can now spend a little extra on the items and services that they need, putting the additional $2.40 per hour back into the economy.
The minimum wage increase is not the sole solution to the problem of income inequality, but it is a definite step in the right direction if we want to alleviate poverty in the province, especially among part-time workers. Raising the minimum wage both stimulates the economy and ensures greater job satisfaction and brand loyalty amongst employees. The bottom-line is that a business must pay their workers a livable wage. Poverty wages do not build a better province and increasing wages is the first step in fighting precarious employment.