Min­i­mum wage hike will af­fect Drumheller busi­nesses ‘big time’

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Kyle Smylie

Busi­nesses in Drumheller are brac­ing for the min­i­mum wage hike in Oc­to­ber, say­ing it will af­fect their busi­nesses and staff.

Al­berta is set for the min­i­mum wage to be raised from $13.60 per hour to $15 per hour on Oc­to­ber 1, with a re­cent re­port from Pub­lic In­ter­est Al­berta say­ing more than 300,000 Al­ber­tans, nearly 1 in 6 work­ers, will have their wages in­creased. A key prom­ise of the Al­berta NDP’s 2015 elec­tion plat­form, Al­berta’s min­i­mum wage has risen from $12.20 in Oc­to­ber 2016 to $13.60 in 2017, with the com­ing in­crease be­ing the last of the party’s prom­ise to raise wages for the prov­ince’s low­est paid work­ers.

Lo­cal busi­nesses are pre­par­ing for the ef­fects of the up­com­ing hike and say it will change how they do busi­ness.

“It’s go­ing to af­fect us big time,” says Pizza Hut owner Tony Ibrahim. “When min­i­mum wage goes up, prices of prod­ucts go up right across the board. So at the end of the day peo­ple don’t end up with any dis­pos­able in­come.”

“I’m go­ing to have to cut back hours,” says Sublime Food and Wine owner Den­nis Standage, who adds his busi­ness will be cut­ting back lunch ser­vices partly due to the wage in­crease.

A re­port from the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness in mid-Au­gust says 85 per cent of over 1,000 small busi­nesses sur­veyed say they want min­i­mum wages frozen at cur­rent lev­els. The re­port also said 55 per cent have re­duced or elim­i­nated plans to hire new work­ers and 46 per cent have raised prices.

The re­port from Pub­lic In­ter­est Al­berta also says about 77 per cent of those work­ers are 20 years of age or older, dis­pelling the “myth that most low wage work­ers are teenagers liv­ing in their par­ents’ base­ments.”

“We have gone on too long al­low­ing work­ers to be paid poverty-level wages,” said the or­ga­ni­za­tion's ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Joel French in a press re­lease.

But Pizza Hut’s Ibrahim says it is not just an em­ployee’s wage which in­creases, but the in­crease causes sup­pli­ers and oth­ers along the chain of busi­ness to in­crease their costs, which gets passed onto own­ers and, ul­ti­mately, onto cus­tomers.

“You’re not even break­ing even in some cases. But there’s not much you can do about it, you just keep try­ing to grow your busi­ness as much as you can.”

The Mail reached out to a num­ber of other lo­cal busi­nesses who de­clined to com­ment.

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