Retail workers’ union says Ontario minimum wage increase is a win-win for both workers and employers

TORONTO, Aug. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Canada’s leading voice of retail workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada), says that the Ontario government’s proposed minimum wage of $15 per hour will be a win-win for both retailers and workers.

Representing more than 100,000 workers across Ontario, the UFCW believes that the province’s largest retailers are well positioned to benefit from the proposed minimum wage increase.

“While some major retailers have said that the proposed increase in Ontario could cost them millions of dollars per year, it’s important to remember that these are some of Canada’s largest and most successful corporations that have recorded profits in the tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars per quarter,” says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada national president.

UFCW also says that some retailers are not acknowledging the fact a higher minimum wage will result in a significant portion of the province’s workforce having more income to spend at retailers, resulting in even stronger sales.

“And in terms of some employers saying they will accelerate investments in automation to cut future labour costs, I would caution those employers that many of their best employees are also their best customers, and attempting to further automate jobs would quite possibly have an adverse affect on their businesses, and most certainly on our communities and local economies,” adds Meinema.

“Every time a government is serious about updating employment standards to better reflect the needs of workers, it’s the same organizations and employer associations who can’t wait to tell us ‘the sky is falling.’ But we know from our recent experience in Alberta, where minimum wage was raised to $15 per hour, that the reality is much different,” says Meinema. To that point, the Parkland Institute recently published a study which demonstrates that since Alberta introduced a $15 minimum wage, employment has actually grown by 37,800, despite a struggling oil sector, and despite earlier employer claims that the minimum wage increase would cost the province between 53,500 and 195,000 jobs.

 “It is also important to remember that this isn’t only about profitability,” adds Meinema. “These are leading companies, and corporate actors, with strong commitments to sustainability and social responsibility, and being truly sustainable involves committing to both the needs of tomorrow and today. And the proposed minimum wage increase is an effective policy if you are trying to help people in precarious work, and it has the potential to decrease income inequality, reduce poverty, and provide significant help to many hard working Ontarians, and their families, who despite balancing a number of part-time jobs, just can’t make ends meet at the current minimum wage level.”

“The fact is that the proposed minimum wage will level the playing field for retailers in Ontario, forcing some retailers who are perhaps less responsible than others, to provide more fairness for all retail employees in the province.”

As Canada’s leading union for retail and food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) represents over 250,000 workers across the country working in the food retail and processing, agriculture, health care, security, and hospitality industries, as well as other sectors of the economy. UFCW Canada is the country’s most innovative organization dedicated to building fairness in workplaces and communities. To find out more about UFCW and its ground-breaking work, visit www.ufcw.ca.

CONTACT: Contact Information:   

UFCW Canada
Derek Johnstone
Special Assistant to the National President
416-679-3417  
derek.johnstone@ufcw.ca
www.ufcw.ca