At the end of May, the Liberal government of Ontario announced that the minimum wage would be going up from its present $11.75 an hour to $14.00 an hour on January 1st 2018, followed by a further increase of a dollar an hour in the following January. Understandably, this was met with whoops of joy from hundreds of thousands of low paid Ontario workers. Furthermore, 70% of Ontarians polled on the issue were supportive of the change.
However, reaction in the business community was mixed. Supermarket giants like Metro and Loblaws both declared against it, saying that it was going to massively increase labour costs. Loblaws reported a $201 million net profit — up 57 per cent from the year before. Metro had a $139.8-million profit in the last quarter of 2016, up 24.3 per cent from a year earlier. Obviously these companies are not going to go out of business by paying their workers a decent wage. Yet, predictably, the focus of resistance to the increase has been on the local “mom and pop” store. Apparently, these small businesses are the ones, just surviving in the cut throat world of competition and the ones that will be most threatened by such a sharp increase in labour costs.
Our reaction to that is two fold. First, if a current business is only surviving by paying its workers a paltry $11.75 an hour, that business doesn’t deserve to stay around. Second, there isa mountain of evidencefrom across North America to show that increasing the minimum wage doesn’t lead to job losses. Also there isevidencethat putting more money into the pockets of low paid workers leads to more money being spent in local economies and thus stimulating job creation.
“The maximum push, however, has come from our American friends — never mind Donald Trump — who have broken the barrier without breaking the back of big banks or small business: San Francisco’s non-unionized minimum wage is now U.S. $14, (about $17.50), and will hit $15 by 2018 ($18.77). That’s the economic reality that recent research relies upon, that business is blind to, that Ontario voters are waking up to, and that smart politicians are paying attention to. The only thing we have to fear about the minimum wage is fear-mongering itself.”Toronto Star, Oct.12
At CoCo, all our employees are already above the new minimum wage of $14.00. In fact they are at or above the proposed minimum of $15.00 proposed for January 2019. That’s not because we are making big profits – we are not and it is a rare event when either of the two owners can take a pay cheque for themselves. But we realise that our business depends on the four women who work for us. If they are happy (and we understand that salary isn’t the only determinant of employee happiness) and they project this feeling to our clients, then to pay our employees well is good for business.
Which face would you rather see when you walk into a Spa?