Foodservice industry responds to Alberta minimum wage announcement

    EDMONTON, June 15 /CNW/ - With this week's minimum wage announcement the
Alberta government has missed an opportunity to help restaurant operators deal
with the serious labour shortage plaguing the province.
    Restaurant wages in Alberta have jumped by an average of 19% in the past
two years, or nearly twice the average industrial wage, which is up 10%.
Still, the industry is struggling with an estimated shortfall of 11,000
    On behalf of its 3,900 members in Alberta, the Canadian Restaurant and
Foodservices Association (CRFA) had asked the province to introduce a wage
differential for front-of-house employees who earn gratuities. By holding the
minimum wage at its current level for tipped employees - many of whom are not
reliant on minimum wage because they earn most of their income from gratuities
- employers would have more flexibility to raise wages for back-of-house
employees and attract more candidates for these positions.
    The minimum wage will rise from $7.00/hour to $8.00/hour on Sept. 1,
2007, representing a 14% increase on top of a 20% increase that took effect in
September 2005.
    "A 14% minimum wage increase will ratchet up wages across the restaurant
industry," says Mark von Schellwitz, CRFA's Vice President, Western Canada. 
"Introducing a gratuity wage differential would have helped restaurant
operators target wage increases to the more difficult-to-find, back-of-house
employees while maintaining wage stability for gratuity earners."
    In the labour-intensive restaurant industry, more than 30 cents of every
dollar in revenue goes directly to payroll costs, which are second only to
food and beverage costs.

For further information:

For further information: Mark von Schellwitz, CRFA VP, Western Canada,
1-866-300-7675; Jill Holroyd, CRFA Communications, 1-800-387-5649, ext. 4217

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