Ontario’s minimum wage hike off to rocky start as employers slash workers’ hours, benefits to protect bottom line

The Conference Board of Canada believes countermeasures implemented by businesses could result in the loss of 42,000 jobs by the end of next year

A steep minimum wage increase that went into effect on Jan. 1 in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has had a rocky start as some employers cut workers’ hours and benefits to reduce its impact on the bottom line.

Ontario raised the minimum wage 21 per cent to $14, making it the highest in Canada.

The provincial government, controlled by the Ontario Liberal Party, positioned it as a measure to improve the livelihood of workers in Ontario, home to the nation’s largest city, Toronto, and its capital, Ottawa.

Yet some employers responded by implementing hiring freezes, cutting hours of existing workers, eliminating paid breaks and boosting benefits costs.

Those companies include franchisees operating Tim Hortons restaurants, the iconic Canadian fast-food chain that sells low-priced coffee, donuts and sandwiches and is owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc.

Some economists said such measures will reduce the impact of the increase.

The Conference Board of Canada, a nonpartisan economic research institute, had initially estimated that the change would shift about $5 billion into the pockets of workers and away from business profits.

full story at http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/corrected-minimum-wage-hike-has-rocky-start-in-canadas-ontario-province

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