As retailers have emerged as the largest employer in Canada – we have become front and centre in the debate on minimum wage. And it’s not an easy discussion. How do we balance a living wage (which poverty groups claim is $14 to 17 per hour) with rising youth unemployment, cross border shopping, painfully thin margins and an increasingly competitive retail sector?
The answer is complex. We need a minimum wage that secures jobs, provides a landing place for the next generation of Canadians and reflects the retail economics that our members live and breathe every day.
In Ontario public hearings are being conducted by the newly struck Minimum Wage Advisory Panel – a government appointed panel on which RCC is a member. The mandate of the Panel is to propose the process under which the minimum wage will be set in the future. Representatives from business and community groups are appearing before the Panel which is expected to report to the Minister early in the New Year.
RCC’s position is that any changes to the minimum be linked to key economic indicators, specifically the Consumer Price Index, versus being linked to the politically-driven policy setting agendas of incumbent governments. A process must be developed that is predictable, and allows retailers significant lead time to budget and manage changes to its labour costs.
RCC members, retailers large and small, are Canada’s top job-creators. Decisions around minimum wage should not discourage investment, job creation, and economic growth.
RCC will continue to monitor this issue and present updates to the membership.