Ontario's independent convenience store owners are banding together to protest provincial government policies they say are driving them out of business.
The protest, named SOS for "Save our Stores," kicked off Wednesday at Brothers Convenience Store in Thornhill.
The store owners' coalition is spearheaded by the Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association (OKBA), which said more than 500 members have closed down their businesses in the last decade.
The campaign focuses on several issues that have affected independent convenience store owners over the last several years, including inaction on contraband tobacco sales, electricity rates and the recently proposed increase to minimum wage.
According to the OKBA, the increase in minimum wage will result in longer hours for store owners and less youth employment.
"Without a change in government, or a massive change in policy and priorities, more stores will close and the dream of a better life in Canada will end for many more independent store owners," says Don Cha, general manager of the OKBA.
"We can no longer afford to stand idle and not get involved. … Our members demand we take a side in this campaign; their livelihoods are being increasingly threatened. We cannot afford another four years of damaging policies affecting our business."
The SOS campaign will be asking politicians from all three major parties to commit to policy platforms in next year's election benefiting the thousands of convenience stores in Ontario.
This story has been updated.
© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.