The minimum wage increase to $10 an hour in Nova Scotia will hit small businesses hard across the province, said the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).
The increase is significantly higher than other economic indicators, according to the CRFA.
"Restaurant operators are already struggling to deal with Nova Scotia's slow economic recovery, HST and fee increases, and escalating food, energy and beverage alcohol costs," said Luc Erjavec, CRFA’s Atlantic Canada vice-president. "In the past three years, minimum wage increases have cost the province's restaurant industry — which is already operating on a thin profit margin of 5.3 per cent — an additional $50 million. Rising labour costs are a key reason the industry has shed almost 2,000 jobs since 2007."
The CRFA made recommendations to the government to create more opportunities in the province, including raising the basic personal tax exemption to be consistent with other provinces and introducing a tip differential to recognized extra income earned by liquor servers.
"Restaurants provide more first-time jobs than any other industry in Canada, and are a stepping stone to the broader labour force including thousands of opportunities within foodservice in Nova Scotia," said Erjavec. "This initiative is counterproductive at a time when we are struggling to preserve our jobs and communities. There are better ways to protect small businesses and the jobs they provide, while reducing poverty."
The government should slow the scheduled minimum wage increases to match the marketplace, according to the CRFA.
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