(EDMONTON, June 30, 2016) – Restaurants Canada, on behalf of Alberta’s 10,600 restaurants and the 150,000 employees who work for them, has tried to engage the Alberta government in a respectful discussion about solutions to minimize the negative consequences of proceeding with a $15 minimum wage by 2018 during a recession. Unfortunately, with today’s announcement, the government has ignored the voices of thousands of:
- small businesses and numerous other stakeholders,
- a majority of Albertans, according to a recent survey, and
- noted Alberta academics, who stated clearly during the consultation process that now is not the time to proceed with a $15 minimum wage.
“Earlier this year the Alberta government broke an election promise to balance the budget by 2018 by presenting its Alberta jobs plan, but today’s actions fly in the face of that commitment to create jobs,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President Western Canada, Restaurants Canada. “Raising minimum wage so quickly is an anti-jobs policy that has already contributed to small business closures and higher unemployment, especially for youth. How many more small businesses need to close, and how many more people need to lose their jobs and hours of work, before the Alberta government recognizes the unintended consequences of this reckless ideological experiment?”
“Our Alberta members are already struggling to survive and maintain employment during these challenging economic times,” added von Schellwitz. “A 50% increase in wages over just three years would be difficult to absorb at any time. But during a recession, our members have said such an increase will lead to a reduction in jobs, hours and wages for the very people it is intended to help. It is simply too much of an increase at the wrong time, and it completely ignores the feedback the government received during the recent minimum wage consultations.”
Moving to a $15 minimum wage during a recession faster than any other North American jurisdiction will damage the province’s competitiveness and future business investment opportunities. Alberta’s minimum wage will now be greater than anywhere else in Canada, at a time when Alberta’s economy is performing worse than any other province.
Von Schellwitz concluded: “Why consult with the industry if the decision was already made and no amount of input or facts were going to sway such an ideological decision?”
Restaurants Canada is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant industry. Alberta’s restaurant industry directly employs more than 150,000 Albertans, representing nearly 7% of the province’s work force.