What does a business do when minimum wage sees a considerable increase?
If you’re the rich owners of a Tim Horton’s franchise, you eliminate paid breaks and slash other benefits. If you’re Coffee Public, a two-location franchise that first opened in Toronto six years ago, you pay your employees above the provincial minimum.
Since opening, Coffee Public’s philosophy has been to compensate workers above Ontario’s minimum wage. When that threshold increase to $14 an hour at the beginning of the year, owners Erin and Nick Cluley remained committed to that standard.
“Given that the minimum wage has increased to $14 and will increase to $15 in 2019, we feel compelled to give everyone a $1.25/hour raise,” reads a letter the company’s owners posted on Coffee Public’s social media platforms. That means Coffee Public employees will now earn $14.75 an hour, with wages rising to $15.50 an hour next year.
“We are going to continue to support local farmers and food producers, and will also continue to work our asses off in our stores as well as roasting coffee, growing vegetables, and baking scratch-made pastries because that’s what hard work is and we don’t expect anything for free,” the letter continues.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, of course, which means the company decided to increase prices across all items by 10 per cent. Currently, the price of a latte at Coffee Public stands at $4.55 for a 12oz size; an Americano goes for $3.
Many on social media praised owners for their handling of the situation.
The situation for the owners of the vilified Cobourg Tim Horton’s franchise, meanwhile, has worsened. A public protest against their actions – which were even called out by Premier Kathleen Wynne – is scheduled for this Wednesday.
Ontario’s new minimum wage will pose a challenge to many small businesses. In Coffee Public, it’s encouraging to see owners who are committed to an equitable solution.