Policy and Perspective: Responses to Minimum Wage Increases

Current and coming increases to minimum wages in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories have created no end of controversy or press coverage. Depending on the source, the predicted effects of the increases range from massive job losses as employers struggle with the higher costs, to an economic boost created by minimum-wage earners spending their pay on goods and services they could not previously afford. Debate has covered the percentage of the increases, the implementation speed, and the influence of regional economic conditions—particularly rural versus urban.

Time will tell what the impacts will be. Expect variations, as some employers may be able to absorb the costs by raising prices without losing customers, while for employees, the local cost of living will affect whether they see a boost to their disposable income.

It’s a complex and politically charged subject, touching the whole economy. In tourism and hospitality, we see earnest employers trying to do the right thing for their staff, while having to work with thin profit margins. We see hard-working, dedicated employees trying to make ends meet as they support their families or pay for increasing education costs. The negative stories have been front and centre, and media coverage has included profiles of employers supporting the increase, including those paying above minimum wage.

As an organization that represents the people that make up tourism and hospitality—10% of all workers in Canada—we want to explore the impact of the wage increases on all fronts: owners and operators of businesses of all sizes, managers, supervisors, and frontline employees.

Below is a mix of articles covering a broad range of perspectives, in an effort to provide a balanced view of the topic. We will continue to track and study the impact of these changes on tourism sector operators and employees as the effects percolate through the economy.

How Ontario restaurants are dealing with the minimum-wage hike

Kathleen Wynne’s minimum wage math doesn’t add up

Why a $15 minimum wage is good for business

Canada’s youth are the clear losers from a higher minimum wage

Ottawa restaurants split on changing tips because of new minimum wage