Ontario’s minimum wage increased 50 cents an hour over the weekend, but Aiana owner Devinder Chaudhary says the increase to $15.50 won’t help with the rising cost of living.
“The minimum wage should be the living wage,” Chaudhary said.
His Ottawa restaurant is part of the Ontario Living Wage Network, paying his employees a minimum of $18.60 an hour. That is the calculated wage an Ottawa resident needs to adequately cover expenses like food, clothing, shelter, medical and other expenses.
“If the experts say 18.60 is what you need, I’m not sure how 15.50 is justified,” Chaudhary said.
The 50-cent hike comes after Canada’s inflation rate reached a nearly 40 year high in June.
While that has slowed, the cost of groceries are up. For some businesses, the wage bump comes at difficult time as they try to bounce back from the pandemic.
“Look, if governments are going to turn to an increase, they should reduce the costs businesses are facing in other lines,” CFIB president Dan Kelly said. “That could be a corporate tax decrease or relief from employer’s health tax.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses says about 60 per cent of small businesses are not hitting their revenue levels. This hike is going to put more pressure on wages.
“It affects the entire minimum wage scale,” Kelly said. “Those who were making more than minimum wage now expect an increase on their wage.”
And that increase could likely pass the cost onto customers.