Wage increase troubles local businesses

The minimum wage across the country, broken down by province. Source: canadaonline.about.com. (Graphic by Katrina Rozal/Toronto Observer)
The minimum wage across the country, broken down by province. Source: canadaonline.about.com. (Graphic by Katrina Rozal/Toronto Observer) (minimumwage_041009)

Local businesses are unhappy as Ontario follows through with its plan to gradually increase minimum wage.

The minimum wage jumped to $9.50 an hour from $8.75 an hour on March 31. Next year’s raise will climb to $10.25 an hour.

“Increasing the wages increases our expenses because it’s more money per hour to pay staff members,” Sam Abbas said, manager at Markville Video Superstore in the Port Union area. “Desperate times call for desperate measures and right now with the economy I don’t think it’s such a good idea. We had to let some staff go because of the decrease in income wise.”

Other people working in local businesses are concerned over the added amount of work they have to do because of the lack of hiring happening in the past year.

“We just can’t hire the way we used to,” Donna Paterson said, at the Highland Creek Supermarket. “But it’s not like we can do anything about it, there’s just a lot more work to do around here. I only have one girl working for me now.”

Other small businesses such as Morningside Health Foods, which has been around for 20 years, find their customers complain more frequently about the rise of prices. Manager Sylvia Kim shares the same disapproval Abbas has towards the wage increase.

Scarborough has 1,800 small businesses. They make up 60 per cent of the area’s total business establishments. But small business workers who still have their jobs welcome the wage increase.

“I think people who work minimum wage deserve it because they often put in long and odd hours so I think it’s justified,” Maria Tsuruda said at Highland Creek Pharmacy.

While others relish getting higher pay, several young adults who live in the Rouge Valley area and attend University of Toronto Scarborough campus have mixed responses towards the changing minimum rate. Although they are glad to have an increased salary, they are skeptical about the type of impact it will have on small businesses and considers the possibility of inflation.