WINNIPEG, April 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Manitoba's budget lived up to the restaurant industry's low expectations, offering no visionary changes for the business community. To add insult to injury, it slapped on a 2.5% increase in minimum wage - which directly hurts the province's labour-intensive restaurant industry.
"We asked for a minimum wage freeze, and instead, we get another minimum wage hike," says Dwayne Marling, Manitoba-Saskatchewan Vice President for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). "Since 2001, the minimum wage has jumped by more three times the rate of inflation. How does this live up to the government's pre-election promise to keep minimum wage increases sustainable - especially for an industry where labour makes up more than one-third of all costs?"
The 25-cent hike in the minimum wage scheduled for October will cost the average restaurant operator an additional $3,400 per year. Between 2001 and 2012, Manitoba's minimum wage has skyrocketed by 64%, compared to a 20% increase in the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI).
"We're frustrated," says Marling. "This announcement comes without any meaningful consultation with the business community."
Today's budget also included an announcement to merge Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, which could impact restaurateurs.
"We're hoping government took our calls for a comprehensive review of the liquor system seriously - and that this merger will result in reduced red tape and streamlined operations that create a better business climate for restaurateurs," says Marling.
Manitoba's $1.8-billion restaurant and foodservice industry is the fourth-largest private sector employer in the province. More than 42,000 people are directly employed in foodservice and half of these employees are young people under the age of 25.
CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada's $63-billion foodservice industry employs more than one million people in communities across the country.
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