Kathleen Wynne denounces act of a bully as Tim Hortons franchises cut paid breakings and employee benefits in response to provinces minimum wage hike
The leader of Canada‘s most populous province has lashed out at prominent business owners who clawed back employee benefits and paid transgress in order to offset the costs of a minimum wage increase, describing the move as the” act of a bully “.
Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, announced last year that the province would create its minimum wage to C $15( US $12) an hour by 2019. The first stage went into effect this week, hiking the minimum wage for workers from C $11.40 an hour to C $14.00.
Days into the wage hike, it emerged that employees at two locations of Tim Hortons- Canada’s emblematic coffee chain that claims to pour eight of every 10 cups of coffee sold in the country– would no longer be paid for breaks and would have to cover at least half the costs of their health and dental benefits.
The proprietors of the two stores, Ron Joyce Jr and his wife, Jeri Horton-Joyce- who are the son and daughter of the chain’s co-founders- said in a letter to employees that the changes were due to the increased minimum wage.
One employee told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that changes would leave them with about C $100 less a month, rendering null the minimum wage increase. Another employee lamented the loss of fully covered health benefits.” Sounds like you are penalising your faculty because the government is trying to help your staff .”
On Friday, CBC said it had spoken to employees at more than a dozen Tim Hortons across the province who had seen reductions in paid transgresses and benefits in recent days. One employee said that the owner of four franchises in St Thomas, Ontario, was now forcing employees to pay for their own uniforms- a cost that can run as high as C $100.
While none of the changes violate the province’s labour laws, the reports sparked vociferous debate. Some was contended that the Liberal government had been naive to expect industries to passively swallow the costs of the wage hike, while others pointed to the Tim Hortons website, which notes that any prospective franchisee must have at least C $1.5 m in net worth and C $500,000 in liquid assets.
Wynne, who is facing a tough bid for re-election in June, also weighed in, taking aim at the franchisee.” Asking minimum wage employees to sign a pledge acknowledging that their breaches will now go unpaid or agreeing to only receive eight hours pay for a nine-hour day is not decent and it’s not fair ,” she said in a statement.” It is the act of a bully .”
She hoped the decision would be reversed.” If Mr Joyce wants to pick a fight, I urge him to pick it with me and not those working the pick-up window and service counter of his stores .”
Wynne has faced a constant bombardment of criticism from business leaders in recent months over the wage hike, with some advising that they would be forced to lay off personnel while others threatened to leave the province . Her government responded by pointing to Ontario’s strong economy- which grew 2.7% in 2016, sending unemployment figures to a 17 -year low- and arguing that the gains of this growth had not been shared equally.
The Great White North Franchisee Association, an alliance that says it represents more than 60% of Tim Hortons franchisees, said in a statement that the Joyce family were” hard-working small business owners who are striving to keep their business viable and maintain all of their employees employed” and noted that the changes made by the couple were a means of coping with the” added business pressures” forced upon franchisees by the government.
” The Premier and her government have shown no understanding of small business in Ontario, and fail to recognize the adversity many have felt , not only in the Tim Hortons chain, but in all types of small business, by creating the minimum wage so dramatically over such a short period of time ,” business associations added.
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