Minimum Wage Cap Welcomed by Canadian Operators

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TORONTO — Ontario will cap the province’s minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020 — a move that the Canadian restaurant industry is welcoming with open arms.

“The hospitality industry has been penalized [by labour reforms],” says Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel Motel Association (ORHMA). “It damaged employer/employee relationships and we certainly welcome the changes.”

His comments come after the Progressive Conservatives opted to freeze the minimum wage at $14 earlier this week as part of a rollback of labour reforms introduced by the previous Liberal government.

As part of the rollback, the government will reduce the number of personal-emergency-leave days (PEL) provided to workers to eight from 10. Workers will also be entitled to three days off for personal illness, two days off for bereavement leave and three for family responsibilities.

Rik Ocvirk, VP of The Distillery Restaurants Corp. — a Toronto-based company that owns and manages five restaurants and more than 700 staff — says that the announcement saved hundreds of small businesses in Ontario and the jobs that go with them. “The minimum wage was a boondoggle from the start,” Ocvirk says. “For them to have given a minimum-wage increase to the people who already make more than everyone in the industry was ridiculous. It wasn’t thought out well. Back-of-house staff have been on the lesser end of the financial benefits of an industry that includes tips. We’ve made moves to increase the tips that go to the kitchen staff, so we’re all trying to pay our staff and be fair to them. I don’t need anyone to legislate me to do that.”


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