On January 1st 2018 the Ontario government raised the minimum wage from $11.60 to $14.00 per hour. Effectively giving millions of minimum wage workers the largest one time raise in memorable history. Subsequently many restaurants and other establishments that employ these workers were forced to come up with more money for their hourly employees. Some restaurants, namely a few Tim Hortons franchise owners decided that the perks, benefits and paid breaks their workers were enjoying would have to stop due to the burden the new minimum wage would impose.
It’s that decision from a few restaurant owners that started a firestorm of conflict and controversy on Facebook and other social media. Many who disagreed with Tim Hortons took to Facebook voicing their displeasure and certainly it’s their right to do so, but is it fair?
To put myself out on a limb, I say it isn’t and here’s why – despite what many choose to believe, most Tim Hortons locations are independently owned and operated. Owning a franchise comes with tremendous cost including but not limited to $1.5 million they require you have in net worth before they will even consider you, $500,000 in liquid assets, $50,000 to buy the right to call your restaurant ‘Tim Hortons’. Then there are the yearly dues you have to agree to pay in advertising fees which are 4 percent and 6 percent in royalty fees. Not included are the costs to build the restaurant, maintain it, keep up with the demands of the franchise to renovate when they say you must renovate. Not included in those numbers are the wages and benefits that brought this whole thing up.
So let’s do a little math with those wages shall we? I’ll be modest on the numbers here as they are surely higher but I’m trying to make a point here, so let’s just say that the average Tim Hortons location employs 30 people, let’s say that 10 of those workers are minimum wage. Those ten people got a raise on January first from $11.60 to $14.00 per hour. If they work 30 hours each week that’s $720 more in payroll costs each week. Now that may not sound like a lot but over the course of a year that’s $37,440. That’s another person’s yearly wage. Remember these numbers are under exaggerated, the real numbers are higher. Now take into consideration the employees that are not minimum wage, they’ve worked there for years and now all of a sudden someone who got hired six months ago is making the same thing they’re making. Either they also get a raise costing the owner of the restaurant even more, or they feel ripped off because their years of service means nothing. How would you feel if after all the time you served you’re now either at minimum wage or just slightly above?
So let’s consider the options the owners have, either they absorb the costs and lose their own money, or they raise prices on their products citing the higher wages (which would effectively alienate the customers) or they take back some of the freebies they’ve been giving their employees and give them the option to pay for those perks out of their own pocket.
If they decide to absorb the cost and not raise prices or take away the perks their choice will almost undoubtedly result in a layoff, I wonder which employee would volunteer for that layoff so their co-workers wouldn’t have to? There’s an argument here that I want to get to and I will a little later so please bear with me.
If they decide to raise prices, again. It would almost certainly tick off the customers who’ve already seen several price increases forcing them to choose another place for their morning cup of joe and resulting in less money for the restaurant and its owner and maybe even forcing it to close. So I understand why they didn’t want to do this.
That leaves the third option, since the government is forcing them to pay higher wages the owner can, and legally I might add, take away the paid breaks and the paid benefits. Effectively leveling out the cost of the higher minimum wage. Consider also that many workers in the same line of work don’t get their benefits paid for, not to mention other fields where breaks aren’t paid and uniforms are the clothes they buy themselves. The fact that Tim Hortons was doing this already is above and beyond what most fast food joints do for their employees. Now, I get that this looks like a slap in the face for the workers, to take away something, but remember they just got a pay raise to the effect of $2.40 per hour.
Earlier I alluded to an argument used by those who are angry at Tim Hortons’ decision. The argument goes like this – the owners should be the ones absorbing the cost of the higher minimum wage because raising coffee prices wouldn’t be fair to the customer and taking it from the employees is even less fair. I believe this picture I saw on Facebook will sum it up for you…
The idea is basically that she is rich because her father, the billionaire (I think you can figure out who he is based on her hyphenated last name) is rich and that because she’s rich she can afford and therefore should pay her employees the new wage and the benefits and the perks they were getting before.
The problem with saying somebody should do something because they can do something is that it implicates each and every single one of us. I can afford to house and feed another prrson, does that mean I should go out and find a homeless person, invite him into my house and do it? Most people can afford to give away an extra meal every single day to someone who needs it, does that mean they should? Or better yet does that mean the government should come in and force you to? Pro athletes get paid millions and we’re the ones giving it to them for our entertainment, does anyone come after them for the cost of a seat at a hockey or baseball game? They’re millionaires and can afford to feed dozens more people than the average Joe but should the government come in and tell them they have to?
That very same argument could be used against those who now receive $14 an hour, they can afford to buy a bowl of chili at their workplace everyday using their employee discount and give it to someone in need. And there are plenty of people in need out there, our homeless situation in Canada is embarrassing. Just because someone can do something, does not, I repeat, does not mean the government should force them to do it.
If I wanted to really stir the pot I would ask each person who posted that pic if they give away as much as possible to those who need it. I guarantee that not one person could say they give as much as they can.
The part about that pic that really get under my skin is the inference that if you don’t do as much as you can because you’re rich than you must be greedy.
Suffice it to say that there are plenty of franchisees out there that are loaded, some might even say filthy rich. Maybe greed got them there, maybe it was hard work and determination. Maybe it was given to them or they inherited it from their parents. Whatever it was, someone at some point busted their back to build that bank account to what it is today. I’m not rich, I’ll say that before you think that I’m defending them because I’m “one of them”, I am however, comfortable. I worked for minimum wage when I first started out, when it was $7 bucks an hour. I know the thinking that comes from minimum wage jobs – the rich are evil and they’re using us to get ahead. That may be true in some cases but certainly not all.
There’s a way of thinking today that says everyone must be equal, and in terms of the value of human life I definitely agree, but many think that everyone should be paid the same amount no matter where you work and what your job is. This is where we get the whole income equality idea. An idea rooted in socialism. Trouble is this creates a divide in the country between the so called rich and the so called poor. It villianizes the rich and victimizes the poor. This is exactly what’s happening with Tim Hortons and it’s employees, and the government is the one behind the scenes pulling the strings. Socialism doesn’t work, never has. Capitalism was born so that governments couldn’t intrude on private lives and private businesses, it’s called the free market. Less government oversight equals better business for all. If you think I’m full of it just do a little research on what socialism has done in the past. Check out Venezuela right now, take a look at Hitler’s Germany, do yourself a favor and Google the word and read up on socialisms past.
I reject the idea that just because someone can afford to give away more money they should. Because when that idea starts getting traction it’s not long before the government picks up on it and makes it the law. If that happens, kiss our freedom goodbye.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Please note that I’m not trying to belittle anyone or take away their right to have an opinion. I do think however that if you’re going to back the whining of the liberal left in this country with their cries about income inequality and corporate greed you should know where there arguments come from. I believe wholeheartedly that big government leads to big trouble. Remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Hey thanks for reading and remember, this is the ‘evil’ conservative because around here we say what they don’t want to hear.
Have a great night.