Kingston businesses react to Ontario’s minimum wage increase

Kingston businesses and organizations react to the province's announcement of raising minimum wage to $15/hour next year. Jonna Semple/Global News

The Ontario government announced on Tuesday that the province’s minimum wage will increase to $15 on Jan. 1, 2022.

This is great news for workers, but what does it mean for local businesses recovering from pandemic closures?

Tommy Hunter has owned Tommy’s Diner on Princess Street for over 10 years.

Read more: Ontario government announces $15 hourly minimum wage by 2022

This isn’t the first time he’s seen an increase to the minimum wage, and he says having it rise annually with inflation makes sense.

Still, he will need to adjust his business to accommodate.

“I think it’s a great thing. Now, that being said, prices of things will go up because labour is going up,” says Hunter.

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“But for us, that might mean we raise our sandwiches 50 cents each, it’s not a big deal.”

Along with the minimum wage increase, the liquor server wage will be eliminated and an annual minimum wage increase will reflect inflation every October.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying the lack of consultation with businesses across the province could lead to job loss, increased consumer costs and hardship for businesses — a statement echoed by the Greater Kingston Chamber.

“Business owners need to be able to plan for increase in their wages and they just don’t have the opportunity at this point, since we’re already two months away from this increase,” says Karen Cross, CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber.

“They’re still working through all the pandemic issues that came their way, their revenues have been constrained, their cost of doing business has been elevated as well — so this increased cost potentially could lead to an increase in products and services coming back to the consumer.”

Read more: New report shows minimum wage in Halifax area needs to be nearly $10 more

Hunter says making it through the pandemic as a restaurant owner hasn’t been easy.

Along with paying more to employees in a couple of months, the industry is also bracing for other price increases.

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“Most restaurants you’ll see will be raising their prices in the next month or two anyway, because food prices are expected to go up 6 to 8 per cent,” says Hunter.

“So prices will have to just go up a little bit more to make up for this labour.”

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Ontario raises minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective Jan. 2022 – Nov 2, 2021

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