Minimum wage hike bad news for small business owners
It may be popular with labour in the province but the proposed new minimum wage figure is causing some worry among small business owners in the Prescott-Russell region.
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council gave its full support to a resolution for a delegation to the Association of municipalities of Ontario (AMO), later this year, to quiz Labour Minister Kevin Flynn about his government’s plan to raise the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour and why there wasn’t greater consultation with the small business and industry sectors about it. The resolution resulted from counties council’s review of a letter from the Chamber of com- merce of Hawkesbury and region.
‘‘The Chamber of commerce of Hawkesbury and region and its retailers are concerned, the letter says, of the impact of the bill that increases the minimum wage across the province from $ 11.40 to $ 15, beginning in January 2018.’’
The letter explained that the new minimum wage could hurt local small- and medium-sized businesses in Eastern Ontario and benefit their competitors across the Ottawa River, in Quebec, which has a lower minimum wage.
Businesses here would have to raise the price for their goods and services to cover the wage increase addition to their operation costs, which would drive customers across the river seeking the same goods and services at a lower price. The sole alternative would be to either cut back on the number of their employees or cut back on working hours for their existing staff to keep their operation costs at current levels.
Mayor Jeanne Charlebois of Hawkesbury told her fellow mayors on UCPR council that she and her councillors have already had local business owners appear at Hawkesbury council sessions asking them what they plan to do about the situation.
“They say, ‘Mrs. Charlebois, we just won’t be able to hire,’” she told council.
Mayor Pierre Leroux of Russell Township, who is a small businessman himself, described the provincial government’s new minimum wage plan as “an election ploy”.
Several mayors on UCPR council, like Guy Desjardins of Clarence-Rockland are full-time farmers. He wondered if the province’s new minimum wage proposal would also apply to farm labour, because then that would mean Ontario farmers competing with their Québec counterparts for produce market sales.
“We’re going to be having some businesses that will close up,” Desjardins said.
Warden Gary Barton also noted that increasing the minimum wage could also affect the student jobs situation if some businesses decided against hiring any or many student summer workers as part of their cost-cutting efforts.
L’intention du gouvernement provincial d’augmenter le salaire minimum en Ontario à 15 $ a peut-être le soutien des travailleurs, mais pas celui des groupes d’entreprises et des gouvernements locaux de la région de Prescott-Russell. Ils craignent que les petites entreprises de la région soient forcées de réduire le coût reliés au personnel afin de maintenir leurs coûts d’exploitation et le prix de leurs produits ou services. Ils craignent aussi de perdre des clients au profit d’entreprises québécoises.