‘Left with no al­ter­na­tive’

Some Tim Hor­tons raise prices on cer­tain break­fast items af­ter On­tario min­i­mum wage hike

The Western Star - - NEWS -

Some Tim Hor­tons lo­ca­tions have in­creased prices on their break­fast menus, its par­ent com­pany said Fri­day, but made no con­nec­tion to the min­i­mum wage con­tro­versy that’s landed the brand in hot wa­ter.

“Reg­u­lar ad­just­ments to menu prices are a nor­mal part of the restau­rant busi­ness,” Restau­rant Brands In­ter­na­tional ( TSX: QSR) of Oakville, Ont., said in a brief state­ment af­ter some so­cial me­dia users com­plained of price hikes.

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

The in­creases come af­ter the com­pany faced a back­lash from con­sumers when it was re­vealed some fran­chisees cut em­ployee ben­e­fits to off­set the im­pact of min­i­mum wage hikes in On­tario, which in­creased to $ 14 per hour from $ 11.60 - a 21- per- cent jump - on Jan. 1.

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

Since then, an­gry con­sumers have taken to so­cial me­dia and en­cour­aged others to # Boy­cott Tim Hor­tons to put pres­sure on the chain to re­verse the changes. Pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side Tim Hor­tons lo­ca­tions across On­tario this week, with hopes such ral­lies will send a mes­sage to fran­chisees and par­ent com­pany Restau­rant Brands In­ter­na­tional.

RBI has de­nounced the ac­tions of some fran­chisees, who have said they have been left with no choice be­cause the par­ent com­pany, which con­trols prod­uct pric­ing, has not com­mit­ted to a price hike.

The owner of the en­tire chain said last week that ac­tion by cer­tain fran­chisees didn’t re­flect its val­ues. Tim Hor­tons said in­di­vid­ual fran­chisees are re­spon­si­ble for set­ting em­ployee wages and ben­e­fits, while com­ply­ing with ap­pli­ca­ble laws.

The Great White North Fran­chisee As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents half of Cana­dian Tim Hor­tons fran­chisees, said it hoped RBI would lower sup­ply costs, re­duce coupon­ing or raise prices. When it did not, the as­so­ci­a­tion said, many fran­chisees were “left no al­ter­na­tive but to im­ple­ment cost sav­ing mea­sures in or­der to sur­vive.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion said the min­i­mum wage hike and other changes to the prov­ince’s labour laws will cost the av­er­age fran­chisee $ 243,889.10 a year. The cal­cu­la­tion as­sumes an ex­tra $ 3.35 hourly per em­ployee, which also in­cludes costs such as in­creased vaca- tion pay.

Who should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that is at the heart of the lat­est round of fin­ger­point­ing 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.

CP PHOTO

A wo­man walks past a Tim Hor­tons in Toronto on Aug. 2, 2017. The par­ent com­pany of Tim Hor­tons says restau­rants in se­lect mar­kets have in­creased prices on cer­tain break­fast items.

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