Pick a fight with me Mr. Joyce, not those working the Tim Hortons pickup window

Posted on January 5, 2018 in Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Contributors – I want the person who hands me a tea or coffee in the morning to be able to pay their bills, raise his or her kids and enjoy the full benefits of life in Ontario. I think that’s just fair — and I know many people across this province agree.
Jan. 5, 2018.   By

I got into politics because I believe in a province where everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead. I believe in a province that grows by creating more fairness and opportunity. A province where government exists to create positive change for people.

That’s why we are raising the minimum wage to $15 in Ontario. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because a decent day’s work deserves a decent wage.

This move isn’t about politics. It’s about people.

People such as Aisha Abdunnur, a 21-year-old woman from Ottawa who recently told Chatelaine the minimum wage increase “will change my life because, hopefully, I won’t be constantly worried.”

She said, for her and her family, the increase is “about basic things” like simply being able to afford much-needed iron supplements.

The minimum wage increase will change her life and so many others across Ontario. No young woman should have to compromise her heath. No parent working more than 40 hours a week should have to go to a food bank to put food on the table.

That’s why the minimum wage increase is the right change at the right time.

Ontario’s economy is strong. Real GDP growth has grown faster than Canada’s and those of all other G7 nations for the past three years and unemployment is at a 17-year low. But those gains have not been shared equally.

Big businesses and major corporations continue to celebrate record profits, while many people in this province juggle multiple jobs and still can’t afford the basics. CEOs enjoy massive salary increases while their workers can’t pay their bills.

That’s not right, and it’s not who we are as a society.

It’s past time we put people ahead of profits. That’s why I am so disheartened when I hear some of the wealthiest among us want to offset this much-needed raise on the backs of their employees.

Workers at a Tim Hortons in Eastern Ontario have been asked to sign a pledge agreeing to work nine hours and be paid for eight and agreeing to lose their health benefits all because the owner of their store says he can’t afford the minimum wage increase. I must admit, I was deeply upset to read these reports.

Because this demand is coming from Ron Joyce Jr. — a man whose family founded the Tim Hortons chain, which was sold for billions of dollars.

Asking workers to sign a pledge agreeing to unpaid breaks or agreeing to less pay than actual hours worked is neither decent nor fair.

I’ll be blunt. It is the act of a bully.

If Mr. Joyce wants to pick a fight, I urge him to pick it with me and not those working the pickup window and service counter of his stores.

Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution. It’s a ritual before Saturday morning hockey and a daily habit many of us enjoy. But I know I want the person who hands me a tea or coffee in the morning to be able to pay their bills, raise his or her kids and enjoy the full benefits of life in Ontario. Again, I think that’s just fair — and I know many people across this province agree.

Because at its core, the minimum wage debate is about what kind of society we want to live in. I look to the south, where middle class children lost health care coverage in the same bill that cut taxes for the richest of the rich, and I know it’s the wrong path. That’s not who we are as a province, and it’s not who we are as a country.

Raising the minimum wage is not a radical act. It’s just fair.

And I have read all the studies. I can tell you the overwhelming evidence is clear — a higher minimum wage puts more money in people’s pockets. It’s money they need and it’s money they spend — putting it right back into our economy.

I will never back down from my commitment to a $15 minimum wage because everyone in Ontario deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Kathleen Wynne is the premier of Ontario.


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2 Responses to “Pick a fight with me Mr. Joyce, not those working the Tim Hortons pickup window”

  1. mknox says:

    Amazing that with low-income workers’ already-meager benefits and rights being attacked and politically-motivated narratives of rampant job loss abounds, Andrea Horwath and the NDP are nowhere to be found.

    The Liberals have done little (if anything) to significantly address the increasing wealth gap post-Harris, but this is a necessary defense of a socially and economically vulnerable population that is continually walked all over by multinational corporations that disregard standards of living for shareholder profit. The fact that the “worker’s party” remains silent on this matter is revealing and disappointing to say the least.

  2. Another story in today’s Toronto Star (Mojtehedzaheh, 5 Jan 2017) indicates that the Tim Horton’s corporation was purchased for $12.5 billion, in 2014. In all of the hand wringing about the poor franchise owner having to absorb the cost of higher minimum wages, or you and I having to pay another quarter for our coffee, why are so few people contemplating just asking Tim Horton’s shareholders to accept a slightly smaller dividend? They would still be richer than most of us can contemplate.
    The polarization of wealth has become obscene, and while we have learned that enticing corporate owners with greater profits does not tend to improve the lot of the people who labour to produce that wealth, there is ample evidence that low-income workers spend all of their wages, thereby stimulating the economy instead of hoarding their gains in a tax-free hidey-hole… And if these minimum wage workers get a raise, maybe they can afford to pick up a Tim’s from time to time!


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