Wynne government plays politics with youth jobs

Published May 30, 2017

Today’s announcement of a $15/hr minimum wage, combined with other costly changes to Employment Standards, betrays the trust of Ontario’s business community — including the more than 37,000 restaurants, bars and other foodservice establishments that employ nearly 473,000 Ontarians, from Pickle Lake to Kingsville.

“Just three short years ago, the Premier committed to a balanced, predictable model to set minimum wage rates,” says James Rilett, Ontario Vice President with Restaurants Canada. “Business took her at her word and supported the changes. Little did we know that she would turn around and make a backroom deal with union leaders.”

Ontario’s minimum wage is jumping by an astronomical 22.8% in January 2018, which is 10 times the rate of inflation. The total increase by January 2019 will be 31.6% in just 18 months – a total hit of $1.8 billion to the province’s restaurant industry.



  • The average restaurant owner in Ontario has 10 employees and annual revenues of $689,000
  • They earn a pre-tax profit of 3.4% (the lowest of any Canadian province), or $23,450 per year
  • A 31.6% wage hike will cost $47,000 per year, more than wiping out their profits

Source: Statistics Canada and Restaurants Canada

“Today’s announcement is devastating to the thousands of small business owners who hire and train high school students, newcomers to Ontario and others looking for a first start in the labour market,” says Rilett. “There is no question this will lead to fewer jobs, fewer hours, and fewer employers.”

“The government says it wants to get kids out of their parents’ basements, but today’s announcement will have the opposite effect. We’re going to see more young people living in their parents’ basements longer.”

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.

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