New minimum wage worries residence operators
system that will provide SNC technicians with real-time information on surface and subsurface water conditions to pass on to farmers, and also aid the SNC with its flood The Ontario Liberal government plans to raise the minimum wage rate in this province to $14 an hour starting in January 2018 then $15 the year after is good news for people working at minimum-wage jobs. But many business operators, including the owner/operators of private residences catering to people like seniors with fixed or low incomes, are worried about how this will affect their base operating expenses, including the working hours and numbers for their staff.
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) received a presentation during its Sept. 12 committee of the whole session from Nicole Normand and Normand Tremblay, speaking as a delegation from l’Association des résidences de Prescott-Russell (ARPR). The group represents the owner/ operators of 35 private residence facilities and housing units in the Prescott-Russell region. For most of them, the majority of their tenants are people with limited or fixed incomes, including seniors on pensions.
ARPR members are concerned about Bill 148, which the provincial Liberal government plans to approve so that it can raise the minimum wage in Ontario from its current $11.40 maximum to $14 starting in January next year followed by a further increase to $15 in January 2019. The association does not object to seeing Ontario’s minimum wage limit increased.
The main worry for the association is how the provincial government’s plan to raise the minimum wage rate will affect “the bottom line” operation expenses for their own facilities if there is not also a corresponding increase in the province’s annual subsidy rate for private residences which provide low-cost housing for people living on fixed or limited incomes and pensions. If that does not happen and ARPR members continue to face rising costs for necessary expenses like hydro and other utilities, then they may have to look into options for reducing their operating costs. That could mean cutting back on the number of people they hire or the number of hours they can offer their employees, or even what kind of services they can provide for their clients.
Right now, the ARPR presentation stated, at least 80 per cent of the people who work private residence facilities are at or close to the current minimum wage. They do the same kind of work in most cases as people employed in the public sector residences but, the ARPR brief noted.
The current minimum wage salary, plus unemployment insurance and other mandatory benefit payments for employers makes up 45 per cent of the base operations expense for ARPR members. Another 10 per cent includes hydro, municipal taxes, and water and sewer service bills. All these are fixed expenses either by the provincial or municipal governments.
Other operation expenses may provide some “wiggle room” for ARPR members but not much. An increase to the minimum wage would mean a 14 per cent increase to the basic operations cost for a private residence in the long term.
The ARPR argues that if the provincial government plans to raise the minimum wage rate for Ontario then it must also look at increasing the support funding it provides through municipal social service programs like that of the UCPR to private residence operators who offer subsidized housing for low-income people and those with fixed incomes.
Le gouvernement libéral de l’Ontario compte augmenter le salaire minimum dans cette province à 14 $ l›heure en janvier 2018, puis à 15 $ l’heure par an plus tard. C›est une bonne nouvelle pour les personnes travaillant dans des emplois à salaire minimum. Mais les dirigeants de nombreuses entreprises, y compris ceux de résidences privées desservant des personnes comme les aînés à revenu fixe ou faible, s›inquiètent des conséquences que ce changement aura sur leurs frais d›exploitation, y compris les heures de travail pour leur personnel.