Bakers Journal

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B.C. to increase minimum wage over next 14 months


March 17, 2011
By Bakers Journal

March 17, 2011, Vancouver – British Columbia’s fragile restaurant industry received more bad news yesterday as the provincial government announced a 28 per cent increase in the province’s general minimum wage over the next 14 months.

The three scheduled wage increases will cost the restaurant industry an estimated $295 million in additional payroll costs.

Restaurant sales in B.C. have been dropping for three straight years and the industry has recently been hit with two public policies – HST and the new drinking and driving penalties – that have resulted in further lost sales.

“The restaurant industry creates thousands of job opportunities in communities across the province, but many operators are now stepping on the brakes,” says Mark von Schellwitz, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) vice president for Western Canada. “Imposing these massive wage increases and eliminating the training wage at a time when sales are declining and food costs are increasing will hurt the very people this announcement is intended to help.  Restaurant owners will be forced to cut hours to control their costs and employees will end up earning less.”

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In a press release, the CRFA noted, “British Columbia’s 2009 Throne Speech stated: ‘Now is not the time to impose hundreds of millions in new costs on small businesses through an increased minimum wage that will mean more job losses, will depress job creation and will hurt those it purports to help.’ This is as true today as it was in 2009.”

The government did listen to recommendations from CRFA and other business groups to implement a gratuity wage differential.

“A gratuity wage will help soften the blow by recognizing the fact that liquor servers are in fact not minimum wage earners,” says von Schellwitz. “This new differential will help somewhat to protect the hours of work and tip income for servers who rely on receiving those hours to earn their gratuities. However, the licensed restaurant employers are still faced with a 12.5 per cent increase in server wages.”

British Columbia’s restaurant industry directly employs more than 160,000 people, including more than 75,000 youth, making it one of the largest job creators in the province.