Minimum wage hike threatens business’s viability

Letter to the editor,

We moved here in 2013 and, with the help of HCDC (as well as family), opened Baked & Battered. 

We’ve put everything we’ve got into it, and we are working harder than we ever have in our lives.  After four years of struggle and determination, and despite the high cost of hydro, propane, financing, supplies, unfunded government requirements, increased CPP costs, damage caused by weather, as well as taxes/fees from three levels of government, we’ve finally done it – we made a small profit this year. But this is about to change. 

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour seems like a super thing – but it won’t matter if the cost of living in our province isn’t controlled, and the burden on small businesses who are shouldering the increase is not eased.  Otherwise, prices will increase, hours and positions cut, and some businesses may be forced to close altogether, eliminating any benefit the wage increase might provide.  For us, a wage hike will be extremely tough, particularly in the winter when our goal is to simply break even but yet always end up using lines of credit to get through.  We then spend the first half of the summer paying those lines of credit before saving for the next winter.  It feels like we’re on a treadmill – and most businesses here experience the same thing.  It would be easier, and much more cost effective, to simply close through the winter.  But staff would be unemployed, and our community would lose an important gathering place – both points vital to a thriving community. We’re resilient, smart and energetic, and determined to navigate our way through, but this challenge may force us to make difficult changes to our shop.  

We love this community.  We believe that people should be able to pay their bills, support their children, and afford medication, food and heat.  But that can only happen if our government works to lower the cost of living.  Perhaps the income threshold at which individuals start being taxed could be raised to, say, $25,000 ensuring that more money could remain in everyone’s pockets – rather than increase minimum wage and damage small business.  Or at least offer relief to business owners who are scrambling to figure out how to cover this sudden and extreme wage hike.

Kathleen Wynne’s current plan, while it may help her get re-elected, will likely put people out of jobs and increase everybody’s cost of living, as businesses struggle to stay viable.  And we worry that her plan may lead to Ontario into a recession.

Craig Gordon and Colby Marcellus