TORONTO, July 20, 2017 – Ontario’s restaurant owners have crunched the numbers on the government’s planned minimum wage increases, and the results aren’t pretty. According to a recent Restaurants Canada survey, 95% of restaurateurs believe that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour – a 32% hike in just 18 months – would hurt the very people we are trying to help.

To keep their businesses afloat, operators plan to take the following actions:

  • 98% will raise menu prices;
  • 97% will reduce labour hours;
  • 81% will lay off staff;
  • 74% will explore labour-saving technology such as self-service touch screens; and
  • 26% are likely to close one or more of their locations.

“The survey results are not surprising, given the average pre-tax profit margin for a restaurant operator is just 3.4%,” says Restaurants Canada’s Vice President Central Canada James Rilett. “The government’s drastic minimum wage hikes will reduce profitability by 5 to 7 points – forcing restaurateurs to lay off staff, reduce employment or close their doors entirely. Many of our members just don’t know how to cope with an increase of this magnitude.”

“Raise the minimum wage, but at least do an economic study to justify the amount and speed of the increase,” said Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada’s President and CEO. “Too much, too fast is not a recipe for success.”

Rilett will present these findings in more detail at the Ontario minimum wage hearing in Hamilton today.

* Restaurants Canada’s survey was conducted in June and July. Results are based on nearly 800 respondents, representing 4,170 locations across the province.


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. Ontario’s $32-billion restaurant industry directly employs nearly 473,000 Ontarians, representing almost 7% of the province’s workforce.


11 responses to “Survey shows Ontario minimum wage hike will force 81% of restaurateurs to cut jobs”

  1. Thana Mills says:

    We have a Produce market and also have a cooler with prepared fruit and salads and sandwiches. We also work on a 3.4% margin . Needless to say staff will be cut and prices will go up . Fruit and vegetables are an important ingredient in fruit is prep . I’m sure we are not the only market facing this. Many restaurants shop from us . Food costs go up so menu prices go up.

    • Lg says:

      Exactly. No idea why they cant seem to grasp this fact. Hence part of my point in raising only minimum wage. Why are ONLY minimum wage workers deserving of a raise in income while others are not?? Infuriating to say the least. Who is going to help ‘us’ with the rising cost of food and other needs?

  2. Alan Mckell says:

    Can we stop talking about the 15 dollar increase, that’s what they want everybody to talk about. It’s all the other cost that will put us under. Sick days payroll taxes and all the other 30 items in the bill that they want. So the min wage makes them look like Robin Hood saving the people they don’t care about that one issue. Look at all the changes from unions being a

  3. John Smyth says:

    This is a two edged sword. For those who make minimum wage, it seems like a wind fall. However, given that the general cost of goods and services will need to rise to cover the increased expenditure on wages, I fail to see how anyone is going to get ahead.
    the second part is this; for those who earn above the minimum wage, they will in all likely hood not receive any increase in pay hence, they will have less disposable income as a result. Given the number of increases in the minimum wage over the years has anyone looked at whether or not such an increase has actually benefited the intended recipient or merely increased the taxes paid to the government. I realize this sounds cynical but it seems quite realistic to me. Just my two cents

  4. Is there a way to combine a training grant so restaurants get some subsidy on wages? Students and grads need work experience and foodservice is a great training ground for many professions in food (food handling, health & safety, not to mention all the soft skills gained). The wider Food Industry is struggling to attract young people to professions while the restaurant industry is suffering with potential job loses. The government is offering millions of $$$ in training, why shouldn’t restaurants get a piece? FoodGrads would be happy to support any initiative that enables students and grads to gain more relevant work experience so they are well prepared to join the workforce.

    • Lg says:

      Many students and grads need and also DESERVE to have their wages raised as well to match the rising costs of living. Those who have sacrificed to get ahead, still cannot afford to live either. This is such a joke to raise minimum wage to $15.

  5. Jack Valianes says:

    If they want to raise the minimum wage of kitchen staff and bussers I can see that but most servers make anywhere from $50 to &400 per shift per night. They should not get a raise.

  6. Paul says:

    Great comments. Unfortunately, the Ontario Government (Liberals) chose not to consider the importance of the foodservice industry as the ‘first employer’ of many who enter the economy. There is an important training benefit that may be lost in the re-engineering of labour cost allocations in many business models. Longer-term employees will get the Min Wage adjustment, but nothing more in terms of a salary increase, whereas part time and first time jobs will be cut or reduced, based on what we’re hearing. There is where ‘Policy’ and ‘Politics’ don’t meet or match the realities of the marketplace. The Government may be hurting the people they are trying to help.

  7. Lg says:

    What about those who make just over minmum wage who can’t afford to live?? Where is their raise. Most secondary education jobs don’t pay close to enough to live either. Raising minimum wage also devalues the secondary education many have spent so much money and time to obtain. And by raising minimum wage, minimum wage job positions will decrease dramatically, leaving more people to just think they can stay on welfare. Not a good solution at all.

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m blown away by the comments… every HUMAN deserves atleast $15 a hour for their time. What a lot of you are missing is $15 doesn’t
    Even meet the basic needs of living. All of you that are bitching why don’t you go and work two jobs like most minimum wage worker need to do to feed their family. It’s not meant to help the average restaurant server who may make a killing in tips each day but it’s there for those who work at DQ or those who work in the mall food court or those who DONT make tips. I think whaaaaaa to those who bitch that it may hurt their small business… I’m pretty sure those minimum wage worker would love to have the opportunity to OWN their own business and BE their own boss. Owning your own business is suppose to be hard work… maybe u might just have to work a little harder.

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