Minimum wage increases, local small business voices concern

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

As part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017, otherwise known as Bill 148, minimum wage has increased to $14 per hour as of Jan. 1, with another increase scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019 to $15 per hour and a local businessman is speaking out.

In an article published on news.ontario.ca on Dec. 27 by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Kevin Flynn said “Our plan for Fair Workplace and Better Jobs provides a minimum wage people can actually live on and modernizes our labour laws to address today’s world. Too many families struggle to get by on part-time or temporary work. Those working full-time can be living in poverty. This is unacceptable in Ontario. Our plan will help ensure everyone who works hard has the chance to reach their full potential and share in Ontario’s prosperity.”

However, Abe Elsayed who owns Gabe and Izzy’s East Coast Deli, said the minimum wage increase doesn’t affect the workers solely, it has a trickle down effect which impacts everyone.

Elsayed said a number of his overhead costs have gone up significantly. For example, his rye bread and other buns have increased by $0.50 per loaf or package. His cheese has increased by $6 per brick.

“I’m at a 36 per cent food cost, which is already high for a small business,” said Elsayed. “Now they’re coming in at 20 per cent increases everywhere, across the board, that’s going to push my food costs over 40 per cent. How do I, as a small business, when I’m picking pennies already, how do I survive? I need help in here, I’m overworked, I’m taking on everything by myself, but I can’t afford to hire anybody.”

Elsayed said when he opened his doors his goal was to create jobs and give students the experience they need. If it was just a matter of increasing employee wages, “everyone could afford it,” but he said it’s everything else that comes along with those wage increases.

“I’m blessed that I have a business. This place means a lot to me because Gabe and Izzy, those are my boys,” said Elsayed. “I walk into this business every day and I see those two kids there on that logo. This is my life.”

The Bank of Canada released a report suggesting employment in Canada could fall by 60,000 jobs due to the minimum wage increase. Additionally, their article suggests inflation will rise and consumption will decline.

For more information on the minimum wage increase as well as the adjustments to the labour laws, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/plan-fair-workplaces-and-better-jobs-bill-148#section-0.

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