Business and commercial: Minimum wage increase affects Ontario

The minimum wage increase has led some business owners to enlist some drastic measures. As of Jan. 1, 2018, the minimum wage in Ontario increased to $14 an hour from $11.60 -- a jump of more than 20 per cent. That sizable increase has caused some havoc in the business and commercial sectors, leading some business owners to cut both hours and benefits for their employees. 

Thousands of Ontario business owners are trying to adjust to the increase. Some have taken drastic measures such as cutting benefits, axing paid breaks and cutting hours. Some larger corporations have taken swift public backlash for doing so. Those in favour of the wage hike argue that the increase was imperative to allow low-wage employees to earn enough to live on. Proponents believe the move will actually help the economy since these workers may now have some disposable income to purchase goods and services.

Others in favour of the wage increase believe that business owners believe the increase is the only issue affecting their businesses when other things like escalating rents, inflation and higher utility prices should figure into the equation as well, especially since wages haven't increased proportionally. Employers -- especially owners of smaller businesses -- are changing the way in which they do things like spending more time in their businesses themselves and chipping in, rather than giving employees extra hours. Most employers say they don't oppose the wage hike, but they are disgruntled about the timeline set and would have liked to have seen changes implemented at a slower rate. 

The increase in the minimum wage could result in many business owners having to make dramatic changes. The wage will increase again by $1 an hour come January of 2019, making the minimum wage $15 an hour. Legal counsel could help to ensure a business owner still remains in compliance with all legalities upon the implementation of such changes. An Ontario lawyer with business and commercial law experience could offer prudent advice to business owners in such circumstances. 

Source: theglobeandmail.com, "Minimum-wage hike spurs Ontario businesses to cut benefits, hours", Brenda Bouw, Jan. 5, 2018

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