Calgary businesses brace for minimum wage increase
The final hike to the provincial minimum wage rate is scheduled to take place on Monday and many Calgary businesses say they are adapting to the change that will make Alberta’s minimum wage the highest in the country.
Back in 2014, the Notley government instituted a plan to increase the minimum wage from the then rate of $10.20 an hour to $15 per hour by October 1, 2018.
Rachel Notley said the $15 per hour rate would help lower income Albertans and help stimulate the economy.
Earlier this year, she defended her plan by saying that she questions any restaurant that serves high-end food while fighting a fair wage for staff who may otherwise have to rely on charity to make ends meet.
Businesses in Calgary’s Kensington Village have mixed opinions about the coming increase.
“As a business owner, I’m not in support of it. For a small business, it can be a challenge to accomodate a wage increase,” said Kelly Ho at Hexagon Boardgame Cafe.
She says that over the past few years of hikes, she hasn’t had to change anything but this time, she will have to increase prices as well as other measures.
“There might be a few hours decreased among our staff; anything we can do to maximize our profit.”
Vinod Manickam, who started as a server and eventually became manager of The Mat’s Diner, says that he first earned $9.50 an hour.
“Now, if I am a server, I should be happy. When the time comes that I should be paying somebody, I shouldn’t worry.”
He says that the restaurant has three assistants at the front and six cooks in the back.
“It’s going to be a little bit increased in the wages, but I have no problem with paying any of them. It’s an Alberta decision.”
He says that he will keep things the same and doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes at all.
“It’s going to be a little tough as a new entrepreneur, but I have to face it.”
Manickam says that he won’t increase prices to accomodate for the higher wages because he doesn’t want to drive off customers.
“People who already make a little more than minimum wage, they are not getting anything. So, if the price increases, they will be upset.”
One thing that Manickam says he will do is he will be more discerning when it comes to hire new employees, especially because he needs them to pay them more to start.
“How can I pay those people who don’t know anything? How can I pay them from the first day? I have to hire someone with experience. I cannot hire any more people who don’t have experience,” he said. “Until now, I don’t demand, I don’t need any experienced person. I can hire them, I can train them, I can keep them. But now, I have to hire an experienced person.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that Alberta’s minimum wage hikes are among the reasons why the small businesses confidence level was below the national average in September.
For information on the minimum wage rates across the country, including details on further increases, you can consult the Retail Council of Canada’s report.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin and The Canadian Press)