Study Highlights How Much Canadians Will Pay to Cover Minimum-wage Increases


ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — There has been a great deal of discussion across Canada about increases in minimum wage and its impacts on workers, employers and customers. From February 13 to 15, research firm Field Agent Canada asked 1,820 Canadians how much more they will be willing to pay for goods and services to support a fair minimum wage and business owners.

One question that has not been addressed is how business owners will be able to pay for the increase to a fair minimum wage for its employees without endangering the long-term viability of their business. Field Agent specifically asked this question for three key minimum-wage sectors: QSR, full-service and retail stores.

While the average increase respondents would be willing to pay was approximately five per cent across all three sectors, what was more pronounced was the percentage of respondents who were unwilling to pay more to support fair minimum wage.

Respondents were most willing to pay the biggest increase at QSR (5.7 per cent) and only 16 per cent of respondents said they would be unwilling to pay anything more at these types of businesses.

At full-service restaurants, respondents would be willing to pay just 4.7 per cent more than they do today and 24 per cent of respondents said they would be unwilling to pay anything more — a 50-per-cent increase compared to QSR.

“The reluctance to pay more at full-service restaurants could be tied to the higher incidence of tipping compared to QSR, as well as the higher absolute cost of eating at a full-service restaurant,” says Jeff Doucette, general manager at Field Agent Canada.

Respondents were less likely to support cost increases at retail stores, with 28 per cent of respondents saying they were unwilling to pay anything more for goods bought at retail. The average cost increase that respondents would be willing to pay was just 4.1 per cent at retail stores.

“It’s encouraging to see Canadian consumers are aware and willing to have some of the increased wage costs be passed down through higher prices, however, the amount Canadians are willing to pay will not cover the increased operating costs employers will need to bear as minimum wage continues to rise,” says Doucette.