Let's Hear from Tony Elenis, ORHMA President & CEO on Minimum Wage Increase
Yesterday, the provincial government announced that a bill will be introduced to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour. The announcement included the proposed elimination of the liquor server wage which has arrived with shock and disbelief.

The timing of this announcement in an environment where restaurants are barely surviving is unbearable. Restaurant operations have been struggling for 20 months and are facing an even tougher recovery road ahead. They have been giving it all they have and this announcement has been received as a slap in the face. 
 
While the general minimum wage increase can be supported by inflation and the workforce shortages the industry is facing, eliminating the Liquor Server rate contributes to one of the most critical struggles in a foodservice operation which is inequity between servers, who earn healthy incomes due to tips, and the kitchen and support staff. Eliminating the Liquor Server rate and moving it up to the general minimum wage rate will make this issue much worse.

The government announcement states that servers seen their tips pooled and redistributed among staff but in reality the vast majority of tipping pools only marginally support non-server employees compared to server take-away pay. This is a source of impacting employee morale and in some cases creates conflict in many operations that divide workers. This is no fault of any employee. Both sets of workers work hard and are at the mercy of the system.

A fairer and deserving pay system needs to be in place. The whole tipping model needs to be reviewed. Allowing tipping income to be calculated as part of the employee wages under the Employment Standard Act will bring the average wage of a server well over the general minimum wage.
 
Furthermore, we are greatly disappointed that the government has unveiled this very important decision without any industry consultation. The hospitality sector has been devastated during this crisis. Not only has this time been labelled a health and economic crisis but it has quickly compounded into an emotional crisis…..this decision adds more fuel to the fire.

A vigorous and meaningful plan is needed in order for the industry to recover and to prepare the industry for success. Ontario’s restaurant performance needs to change dramatically and the smart and realistic way is to slim down the traditional chronic costs influenced by government.

  • High on the list is a reduction in Beverage Alcohol Pricing.  Three quarters of Ontario's restaurants are licensed and can benefit from a reduction in liquor pricing. Ontario can follow the lead of British Columbia and Nova Scotia who have reduced beverage pricing for licensees during COVID-19.

We at ORHMA will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and Ontario's hospitality industry for fairness for our sector.

Tony Elenis
President & CEO
Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA)
Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
(905) 361-0268 (800) 668-8906
info@orhma.com www.orhma.com