Walmart employee working

Minimum wage increase runs into backlash

Small-businesses, employees on commission raising concerns

Pay raises are something people are usually happy about, but at the start of 2018, the minimum-wage increase is leaving some people across Ontario frustrated.

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage in Ontario increased to $14 an hour from $11.60. “This change will help workers and their families who are struggling to get ahead in a changing economy,” the government stated in a news release.

Chris Bernards, a Walmart employee and Ryerson University accounting student who received the raise, is not impressed.

“I think the wage at where it is now, you can live off of it — it’s just that people are spending on things that they don’t need to,” Bernards said.

“With increasing that minimum wage, that’s a cost increase of the business. So therefore they are going to have to increase the price of their goods, which is going to be a repeating cycle, and then, eventually a few years down the road, they are going to have to increase it by $4 again.”

The rising cost of goods and services is a widespread concern among small-business owners who say they can’t afford to pay their workers the new minimum wage.

Robin Tateyama, the owner of West Star Athletics, said he will have to cut back his staff on the weekend. If he owned a smaller business, he added, he would consider closing.

In response to the concern by small-business owners, the Ontario government is cutting small-business taxes, as well as offering incentives equalling $500 million.

One segment, however, says the minimum wage hike doesn’t help at all: self-employed workers.

“Well, it’s not really that fair, considering we are working just as hard as someone who is making minimum wage and we don’t get an increase,” says Edward Brown, an Uber driver. “We still do the same amount of work with less money. It’s government-controlled and it should be fair all around.”

Some have raised concerns other than strictly financial ones.

“I find that minimum-wage jobs are kind of a stepping stone to other jobs,”  Ryerson student Bernards said. “Every time you get a minimum-wage job, you just want to get out of it. So increasing it will make people want to stay at a minimum-wage job.”