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Minimum Wage Earners in Ottawa Welcome Raise, but Business Owners Worry About Increased Costs

It takes Thomas Duncan at least an hour each way from Metcalfe to downtown Ottawa to get to his part-time job and to school.

“Depending on traffic, it can go up an hour and hour-40 which is just more gas,” he said. “Living expenses, gas, and just average phone bills sometimes minimum wage can’t keep up and it does cause problems.”

But as of Sunday, Duncan is now getting a slight boost in pay as Ontario’s general minimum wage rose from $15.50 to $16.55 per hour.

It’s one of the highest increases in the country, but some say the $1.05 increase does not go far enough.

“No matter how much you raise minimum wage, things are always going to be expensive,” said post-secondary school student Mya Copeland.

Labour advocates, like the Ontario Living Wage Network, are calling on the province to introduce a $20 minimum wage in Ontario.

“In the GTA, our living wage is $23.15. That means if you are working full-time minimum wage, even after this increase, you’re still short $230 a week of being able to pay your bills being able to make ends meet,” said Craig Pickthorne, with the Ontario Living Wage Network.

Others argue that an increase that quick would come out of customers’ pockets.

“Businesses might put it back into the price of the product, back into the price of the service, and we will be back in square one,” said small business advocate Michael Wood.

It’s a constant juggling act for one Ottawa-based bar owner.

“We’ve been paying above minimum wage,” said Dominion City Brewing Co. co-founder Josh McJannett. “I think any business owner right now is kind of jammed between the cost of everything going up, wanting to do right by their employees, wanting to be able to provide that decent work.”

But he knows any business paying minimum wage makes it harder to attract employees. Paying above that helps retain talent.

Source : CTV