New minimum wage likely to be felt by consumers: Chamber president

Ontario Labour minister Steve Peters announced last week the province is raising the minimum wage on Feb. 1, and again on Feb. 1, 2007, and that likely will have an impact to both employers and consumers in Fort Frances, Chamber of Commerce president Gary Rogozinski warned.
“There’s always an impact anytime you increase any of your costs,” he noted. “In this case, a lot of businesses in town do employ people who are paid minimum wage, whether they’re students or people from around town.
“Any increase, of course, will impact the profitability of any business,” he remarked. “You have to recover some of those costs, especially if you’re a marginal business.
“[And] that will probably be directly passed on to the customer,” added Rogozinski. “If you’re a restaurant, you might see a cup of coffee go up a little bit. If you’re in retail, you may see a few extra cents charged for the products you sell.”
Rogozinski said businesses already having a tough time may feel the impact more than others—possibly to the point of going out of business. But typically, any government-mandated increase in wages is passed on to the customers.
“It’s a vicious circle,” he remarked.
On the plus side, Rogozinski said the hike obviously is good for those who are paid minimum wage.
“And as minimum wage goes up, it may make it easier to find people to work for you,” he noted.
The general minimum wage will rise 30 cents to $7.75 per hour on Feb. 1, and there will be a further hike to $8 per hour on Feb. 1, 2007.
Other minimum wage rates also will increase Feb. 1. The minimum wage for students under 18 years old and employed for not more than 28 hours a week will rise from $6.95 to $7.25 per hour.
Liquor servers’ wages will rise from $6.50 to $6.75 per hour.
And hunting and fishing guides currently paid a minimum of $37.25 for less than five consecutive hours in a day, and $74.50 for five or more hours in a day (whether or not the hours are consecutive), will jump to $38.75 and $77.50, respectively.
“We are providing Ontario’s lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers with the third increase in the minimum wage in three years,” Peters noted in a press release last week.
“It is to Ontario’s economic advantage to see that our workers are paid a fair wage,” he added.
“The increase is part of the McGuinty government’s investment in people,” noted Peters.
“By phasing in the minimum wage increases, we can help these workers benefit from Ontario’s economic growth while keeping Ontario businesses competitive.”