Minimum wage increases having a big impact on the food service industry

By CHAT News Today
October 1, 2018 - 1:31pm Updated: October 1, 2018 - 7:31pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB – Entry level workers in Alberta woke up to a big pay increase this morning as the minimum wage rose $1.40 to $15 an hour.

Alberta now has the highest minimum wage in the country and has increased 47 per cent since 2015.

In the days leading up to the latest increase, some members of the NDP government took to Twitter to talk about an increase in restaurant sales.

They tweeted graphs and information from Statistics Canada highlighting an $18 million year-over year increase in sales for July. It shows sales at a record high.

It seems like great news for those in the restaurant business, but one organization says it's misleading and doesn't paint the whole picture.

“I think the government has certainly had some misleading information that they’ve sent out there that for some reason everything is great in the hospitality industry, when in fact the opposite is true,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice president for Western Canada.

Restaurants Canada is an organization representing over 33,000 businesses across the country.

Von Schellwitz said when you factor in menu inflation due to increased costs for food, and other expenses like minimum wage, sales in Alberta are actually 1.6 percent lower year-over-year.

“We’re down over 13,300 employees as an industry in the last three years,” he said. “Our average sales have actually continued to go down.”

The organization said based on information from Statistics Canada when you take menu inflation into account the average restaurant is projected to make around $14,707 less in 2018 than they did in 2017.

Restaurants Canada is urging the Alberta government to reintroduce the liquor server wage, and to introduce a youth wage at $13.60.

Snowfall warnings for much of southern Alberta