Restaurants Canada member letter re: Ontario minimum wage increase

Published June 5, 2017


Dear Members:

In a shocking, crass, political move the Premier of Ontario announced this morning that the general minimum wage will increase an astronomical 22.8% to $14 in 6 months’ time.  A second increase to $15 will take effect January 1, 2019 (if the Liberals are re-elected next spring).

The student under 18 wage and the liquor server wage will increase as follows:

Minimum Wage Category Current October 1, 2017 January 1, 2018 January 1, 2019
General $11.40 $11.60 $14.00 $15.00
Student under 18 $10.70 $10.90 $13.15 $14.10
Liquor Servers $ 9.90 $10.10 $12.10 $13.05


Surrounded by union leaders, the Premier of Ontario announced a number of other costly changes that will increase payroll costs and facilitate union certification.

Some of the employments standards changes impacting restaurants include:

  • Equal pay provisions to ensure part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are paid equally to full-time employees when performing the same job
  • New scheduling rules including minimum payments for less than 3 hours of work
  • Three week vacation entitlement after 5 years of service
  • Entitlement to 10 personal emergency leave days per year, including two that are paid
  • Related businesses treated as one employer and held jointly responsible for monies owing under the Employment Standards Act
  • Increased penalties for non-compliance
  • Interest on unpaid wages

What wasn’t included as feared was the elimination of the minimum wage differentials.

Some of the Labour Relations Act changes that could impact restaurants include:

  •  Allowing unions to more easily get certified when an employer engages in misconduct
  • ·Making access to first contract arbitration easier
  • Requiring the Ontario Labour Relations Board (ORLB) to address first contract mediation-arbitration before dealing with displacement and decertification applications.
  • Allowing unions to have access to employee lists and certain contact information with the support of only 20% of employees
  • Empowering ORLB to conduct votes outside the workplace, including electronically and by telephone
  • Extending successor rights to  the rendering of building services (contract caterers)
  • Empowers ORLB to change the structure of bargaining units within a single employer

What wasn’t included, as feared, was sectoral bargaining and common employer provisions. Click here for more detailed information on proposed regulatory changes.

The changes the premier announced are in response to the final report of the Changing Workplace Review Commission, which reads like a union wish list.  However, minimum wage was expressly excluded from the mandate of the Commission.

Through the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) coalition, Restaurants Canada has been working with the business community to educate government about the impact on jobs and the economy of the pro-union approach advocated by the Commission.  Restaurants Canada has also been meeting with Ministers, MPPs, staff and opposition members about the impact of a $15 minimum wage on youth and first time job seekers.

The policies announced today are being driven by the Premier, who believes they will help her government get re-elected next spring.  It is important that MPPs hear from you about the impact of these changes to your business, and more importantly your ability to create employment.

You need to contact your MPP and tell them your story, about how you create employment, hire and train youth, and the impact of your business on the community.  Follow this link to find out how to contact your MPP or a member of the cabinet.

The government will be introducing legislation to implement these changes in the next two days.  Throughout the summer, committee hearings will be held across the province.  Restaurants Canada will be participating, but it is important that our members make themselves heard directly as well.

We will be providing information on how to register to participate in the hearings as soon as the information is released.We will also be introducing a Call To Action campaign.  Stay tuned.

Restaurants Canada’s release on today’s announcement can be found here.

Please feel free to contact me for more information on comments.

James Rilett

Vice President, Central Canada | Vice-président Centre du Canada
Restaurants Canada (formerly CRFA)
T:  (416) 649-4241
Please note new email address:

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