Canadian fast food industry is fighting to increase pay and benefits for fast food employees in an effort to help ease labour shortages.
On Friday, the fast food sector’s largest union announced its opposition to the $15 minimum wage, which is set to be introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 20.
The union argues it will lead to increased turnover in fast food restaurants, as employees can’t easily afford to cover their own expenses, and that the federal government should provide more funding for wages.
“Our concern is that the $16 per hour wage, by eliminating the minimum wage from the bill, will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy,” said Doug Grant, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“It will have an impact on small businesses, who will be losing jobs, and will have to increase wages, and then it will have that ripple effect throughout the economy.”
A spokesman for the federal Department of Labour, who declined to give his name, told The Associated Press the government has not yet made a decision on a $15 per hour minimum wage.
But the spokesperson said the government will continue to work with the industry to determine the best approach.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure that Canadians are able to thrive,” said Justin Lemoine.
“And we’re doing everything we possibly can to support the industry and the businesses that are making it possible.”
The minimum wage has been debated in Canada for years, and the government recently began reviewing it.
In 2016, the Canadian Labour Congress, the largest labour federation in Canada, supported the $10 per hour proposal.
But that proposal was rejected by the Harper government.
Since then, the government of Trudeau has also promised to boost the minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour, which the labour union sees as a critical first step.
A spokesperson for Trudeau said the minimum $15 hourly wage is necessary to provide workers with the support they need to move into the fast-food industry and help businesses remain competitive.
“That $15 wage would ensure that Canadians would be able to support their families, buy goods and services, and grow their businesses in the fast casual and hospitality industries,” said Grant.
“And that’s what the federal Liberals have committed to.”