Hor­tons raises break­fast prices

Fran­chisees fear it may not be enough to ad­just to min­i­mum wage hike

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - ALEKSANDRA SA­GAN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Tim Hor­tons fran­chisees knew price in­creases on some menu items were com­ing, but the slight bump on break­fast menus the com­pany con­firmed Fri­day falls short of the 10 per cent across-the-menu hike those grap­pling with On­tario’s min­i­mum wage hike feel they need, ac­cord­ing to a fran­chisee as­so­ci­a­tion source.

“Some restau­rants in se­lect mar­kets have slightly in­creased prices for some break­fast menu items,” par­ent com­pany Restau­rant Brands In­ter­na­tional said on Fri­day.

“Reg­u­lar ad­just­ments to menu prices are a nor­mal part of the restau­rant busi­ness,” the Oakville, Ont.-based com­pany said in a brief state­ment, mak­ing no con­nec­tion be­tween the move and the min­i­mum wage con­tro­versy that’s landed the chain in hot wa­ter.

A source from the Great White North Fran­chisee As­so­ci­a­tion, a group not sanc­tioned by the com­pany that aims to voice the con­cerns of the roughly half of Cana­dian fran­chisees it rep­re­sents, con­firmed RBI an­nounced the price ad­just­ment to fran­chisees weeks prior.

The ad­just­ments vary by area, the source said, but were added to a hand­ful of items — mostly break­fast com­bos — and prices went up about 20 cents in many re­gions.

The tim­ing of RBI’s in­ter­nal an­nounce­ment in­di­cates it has not bowed to mount­ing pres­sure from some fran­chisees, an in­dus­try group and the pub­lic to re­solve how some store own­ers han­dled a 21 per cent jump in On­tario’s min­i­mum wage, which kicked in Jan. 1.

Some Tim Hor­tons fran­chisees in the prov­ince elim­i­nated paid breaks, fully-cov­ered health and den­tal plans, and other perks for their work­ers. The changes came to light af­ter a let­ter from the own­ers of two Cobourg fran­chisees cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia.

Those fran­chisees and the GWNFA partly blame RBI, which con­trols pric­ing, for re­fus­ing to help fran­chisees stom­ach the $2.40 jump in min­i­mum hourly wages by boost­ing what they can charge for food and bev­er­ages, among other re­quests.

The GWNFA source says fran­chisees want menu prices to go up by about 10 per cent across the board in Canada.

The as­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates the min­i­mum wage hike and other changes to the prov­ince’s labour laws will cost the av­er­age fran­chisee $243,889 a year. The cal­cu­la­tion as­sumes an ex­tra $3.35 hourly per em­ployee, which also in­cludes costs such as in­creased va­ca­tion pay.

RBI de­nounced the ac­tions taken by some fran­chisees and has said it’s com­mit­ted to help­ing restau­rant own­ers work through the changes. The com­pany has de­clined to an­swer ques­tions on how it in­tends to do that. It did not im­me­di­ately an­swer re­quests for com­ment af­ter is­su­ing an ini­tial state­ment Fri­day.

Tim Hor­tons main­tains in­di­vid­ual fran­chisees are re­spon­si­ble for set­ting em­ployee wages and ben­e­fits, while com­ply­ing with ap­pli­ca­ble laws.

An­gry con­sumers have tar­geted both the par­ent com­pany and the fran­chisees, tak­ing to so­cial me­dia and en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to #Boy­cott­TimHor­tons in an ef­fort to put pres­sure on ei­ther group to re­verse the changes. Pro­test­ers also gath­ered out­side Tim Hor­tons lo­ca­tions across On­tario this week.

The On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Labour, an um­brella group for work­ers and their unions in On­tario, called on RBI’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Daniel Schwartz to take im­me­di­ate steps to en­sure his fran­chisees com­ply with and re­spect the spirit of the prov­ince’s labour laws.

The dis­pute over em­ployee wages and price hikes is the lat­est round of fin­ger-point­ing in an on­go­ing blame game be­tween some fran­chisees and their cor­po­rate par­ent. They have pub­licly sparred over al­leged mis­man­age­ment and filed sev­eral law­suits against each other in re­cent months.

Tim Hor­tons ap­pears to have last ad­justed prices Aug. 2, 2017 when it boosted what it charges for hot bev­er­ages and break­fast items.

The last known prior price in­crease was in 2014.

Some restau­rants in se­lect mar­kets have slightly in­creased prices for some break­fast menu items.” Restau­rant Brands In­ter­na­tional

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