Cost of eating out likely to rise with wage hike

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At least one Petrolia restaurant owner says the price for a meal out will likely go up after the province announced minimum wage will go up to $15 in January.  

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement Tuesday, three years after cancelling the increase to $15 per hour planned by the Liberal government. Ford cited the increased cost of living because of the pandemic as one of the reasons for the 65 cent per hour increase. 

For restaurant servers, the increase will make even more of a difference – their wage goes from $12.55 to $15 on Jan. 1. 

The restaurant industry has been treading water through the pandemic. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce called for the government to look at things like debt forgiveness so the small businesses can pay for the increase.

Brian Dunlop of Actors in Petrolia, says that 20 per cent wage increase is tough. And it coupled with steadily rising food prices, will affect the cost of eating out.

“We will have to do an increase and people think we’re expensive now.”

Dunlop says while the increase will have an affect, it won’t cost him as much as it would have in 2018, simply because he has about 16 fewer employees now. 

While businesses wondered how they would find the cash for the increase, labour leaders, who stood with the premier at the news conference, signalled this is only the beginning. 

“Is $15 an hour wonderful, no,” said Jerry Diaz of Unifor. “Do I think it is a good start? Yes.”