No easy answers for employers facing major minimum wage hikes

Tim Hortons in political crosshairs following cut to employee benefits, perks
By Marcel Vander Wier
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 02/01/2018
Tim Hortons
Protesters gathered at several Tim Hortons locations in Ontario in January after word spread that some franchisees were making cuts to employee benefits after the minimum wage hike. Credit: Ontario Federation of Labour

Many cries of “Happy New Year!” in Ontario turned into chants railing against the country’s iconic coffee chain following Tim Hortons’ response to a legislated 21 per cent rise in minimum wage in the province.

On Jan. 1, the rate jumped from $11.40 to $14 per hour — the highest in Canada — as part of a climb to $15 per hour by 2019. In response, some Tim Hortons franchisees cut paid breaks and restructured medical benefits in an effort to reduce the financial impact.

This led to a public dispute between Premier Kathleen Wynne and children of the chain’s co-founder, with Ontario’s top politician accusing the franchisees of bullying. The province then announced it would be hiring 175 employment standards officers to ensure businesses are abiding by the new regulations.