On March 22, recently elected Restaurants Canada Chair Patrick Saurette (The Marc restaurant) along with Alberta Directors Mike Yasinski (Hudsons Canada’s Pubs) and Leslie Echino (Blink Restaurant & Bar) and Mark von Schellwitz, VP Western Canada, met with Alberta Labour Minister Christiana Gray to discuss Alberta labour policy issues.
The topics discussed included the elimination of the liquor server wage, three years of significant minimum wage increases, as well as the recent changes to labour legislation and the new statutory holiday pay regulations. Each has significantly increased labour costs to Alberta’s foodservice industry.
The delegation also pointed out that Alberta’s 13 per cent youth unemployment rate is one of the highest in Canada. As the largest youth employer in the province, our industry’s ability to help employ more youth has been hindered by these labour policies.
The Minister stated that she too was concerned with the high youth unemployment rate. Restaurants Canada once again recommended re-implementing the liquor server wage and introducing a youth wage similar to Ontario’s. Doing so could increase youth employment and help the struggling restaurant industry recover from the recent perfect storm of declining sales combined with cost increases.