Wage hike puts pressure on businesses 0
Sheila Comer, owner of Pink Ribbon Bakery in New Westminster, isn't happy with the latest high in the minimum wage. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
Minimum wage earners can look forward to getting more in their next pay cheque - an increase some small business owners say is taking a huge bite out of their bottom line.
Sheila Comer, owner of the newly opened Pink Ribbon Bakery, said any thoughts of hiring her first employee vanished just after she finished interviews days earlier when she heard the minimum wage goes up to $10.25 per hour Tuesday.
"I got fired right up. I lost it," the New Westminster woman said.
"I just felt like I wasn't given a fair chance. (My family) are now working seven days a week, giving up their time for my dream. I think there should be a grace period for new businesses like myself. Give us a year of having one employee for $8 an hour."
Zeinul Bandali, owner of Cobs Bread on Main Street, estimated staff costs have increased to nearly 40% of her overall budget.
"From being able to start someone at $9 a couple of years ago, now we're looking at starting at $10.25," she said, adding that those who started earlier now want to be paid more than new hires.
"We don't have a choice, we have to accept it as a fact."
The May 1 increase is the last in a three-stage boost designed to align the province's minimum wages with the rest of Canada. The majority of B.C.'s minimum wage workers can now expect a 75-cent boost from the last increase in November.
Liquor servers, however, only received a 25-cent boost. Farm workers haven't seen any increases since last year.
B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said the wage disparity discriminates against liquor servers, who aren't the only ones in B.C. receiving tips, and farm harvesters who he estimated make about 20% less than the average worker.
"The minimum wage that worked in the past 40 to 50 years applied for everyone. Just like the CEOs get bonuses, hairdressers get tips all the time. Lots of people get tips. It's just that we picked on one group of people that get tips and said, 'They don't deserve as much.'" he said.
Former Vancouver restaurant server Erin Maloney added it's business owners who should be paying servers' increases, not customers' tips, and called the practice unfair.