Your letters: Waging debate over pay hike

Pick a fight with me Mr. Joyce, not workers; and Small business owners are not the bullies here, Opinion, Jan. 7

We strongly disagree with Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, when he suggests the minimum-wage hike is about “election optics.”

Small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and therefore a powerful political base. Thus, if Premier Kathleen Wynne is indeed “shaming” small businesses, she is actually risking political suicide. We applaud her for courageously putting the quality of life of everyday Ontarians above the Liberals’ political gains.

As small business owners for 34 years, we have always paid our employees well above minimum wage. In profitable years, we have rewarded them with year-end bonuses. As Wynne aptly argues, “it’s the right thing to do.” Profiting from those who struggle to make ends meet is not good business, it is abuse.

For those small-business owners who truly cannot afford to pay a living wage, you have our sympathy. It takes courage to accept the risks inherent with starting a business. However, if your success depends on the failure of your employees to make ends meet, then you cannot be truly successful.

Maybe I’m missing something but higher minimum wages will eventually result in higher prices for many products. The low-wage earners, and other low-income families like seniors on a fixed income, will likely then fall even further behind.

Could the problem simply not have been resolved by reducing the income-tax rate for lower-income families? Obviously the provincial government wants higher wages so it can claw some of it back through income taxes. No one will win by raising the minimum wage.

Dennis Patrino, Welland, Ont.

Tims pours cold water on its warm, fuzzy brand, Keenan, Jan. 10

I would gladly pay more for my coffee and doughnut to make possible the continued care of Tim Hortons’ fine staff – as they have cared for me and my family and friends for so many years and in so many places.

I don’t want to leave Tim’s comfort and kindness for some cold and trendy café staffed by constantly changing temps. Tim’s is one of my homes, where I always feel welcome and safe.

Please find a way to reward these wonderful workers for their dedication and loyal service, and you can count on my continued and loyal patronage.

Susan McMaster, Ottawa

Most letter writers who support the minimum-wage increase offer a simple solution: businesses should simply raise their prices to cover the increased labour costs.

What about all those on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, seniors, the disabled, etc.? Are their monthly stipends going to increase to cover these higher prices?

Inflation helps no one – not even those who will benefit from this increase in minimum wage. If anything, it will hurt.

J. Brunins, Britt, Ont.

Tim Hortons locations hit by protests over wage clawbacks, Jan. 10

It was inspiring to see the widespread support for low-wage workers reported in Sara Mojtehedzadeh’s article. Cutting benefits, making workers pay for uniforms, denying them tips and more suggest these Tim Hortons franchises are taking the opportunity to claw back even more than what the $14 minimum wage is worth.

Shawna Dixon, Toronto

As somebody who is precariously employed and making minimum wage, I, too, am concerned about the wage rising. I am no better off because I am working fewer hours and making the same amount of money. Premier Kathleen Wynne wrongly assumed employees’ hours would stay the same or rise and that’s just not the case.

However, protesting in front of Tim Hortons or other businesses will do no good either. Although I believe protestors have good intentions, it will simply deter customers from going inside and, in turn, will give these locations even more reason to cut employees’ hours or positions altogether.

The best thing people can do is to frequent these businesses more often and support front-line employees.

Arthur Gallant, Hamilton

I am really finding it difficult to empathize with businesses like Tim Hortons crying over the minimum-wage increase. The fact that these businesses are paying minimum wage in the first place demonstrates a corporate greed that supersedes any dignity and respect for their employees that serve the coffee and make the sandwiches that generate billions in earnings. Tim Hortons is no longer Canadian and I feel we shouldn’t be as loyal to a brand that does not project Canadian values. Were businesses expecting the minimum wage to stay the same forever?

Brad Globe, Whitby

Minimum-wage hike working in Alberta despite gloomy predictions, Steward, Jan. 9

Gillian Steward makes a weak attempt to diminish the potential impact of the minimum-wage hike on Ontario’s economy by comparing it to the seemingly minor impact Alberta’s increase has had on its economy.

Alberta has the highest income per capita of any province. As a proportion of the total workforce, Alberta’s minimum-wage earners represent less than half that of Ontario’s. The oil industry has created such high income levels across Alberta that, during peak oil prices, it was not unheard of for retail chains to be unable to attract workers at wages well above $15 per hour.

The biggest issue in Ontario is the speed of the increase. Labour costs are typically the most significant expense in any business. The overnight increase in the general wage of 21 per cent is a significant burden, particularly on many small businesses. Individual Ontarians would be up in arms if their taxes or utilities shot up by that much overnight.

A more prudent government would have eased this in over a longer period of time. However, since the Ontario Liberal government knew its time at Queen’s Park was probably limited, it rushed this through.

However, Liberal MPs will be able to benefit from sitting in opposition come June and being able to critique the new government on why unemployment rates are up.

Andrew Shapiro, Richmond Hill

What a shame that the national infatuation with Tim’s has taken a hit in the minimum-wage debate. Despite the fact that some franchises struggle in low-volume locations, for the most part, the chain is a delirious success from coast to coast. The real shocker is the thought that its workers toil for the minimum wage.

Hugh McKechnie, Newmarket