Independent convenience store

In a new member survey published this week, the Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) found widespread concern among retailers about the unintended consequences resulting from Ontario’s surprise minimum wage increase, as well as other proposed labour changes.

As a result of the legislation introduced by the Government of Ontario earlier this year, 83 per cent of convenience retailers surveyed expect that the rapid minimum wage increase will require employee reductions in the next 12 months. Some members forecast more than 250 reductions in paid positions within the next year. 80 per cent of retailers also anticipate they will be hiring fewer part-time employees.

“Without mitigation measures, the speed of these labour changes will result in unintended consequences for Ontario’s retail sector – quite possibly harming many of those workers the government hoped to help, like students, retirees, seasonal and part-time workers that are employed in our members’ stores,” said Dave Bryans, CEO of the OCSA. “We support fair wages. In fact, the OCSA and our members was a prominent supporter of the Wynne government’s previous inflation-tied approach to minimum wage rate increases. That model ensured fair and predictable minimum wage increases for workers across Ontario, and gave employers the ability to adjust.”

The survey also asked retailers to forecast increased yearly costs for their businesses, with small stores seeing increases by as much as $50,000/year. This will be particularly hard to absorb for small and family-run stores, many of whom are owned and operated by entrepreneurial new Canadians.

“The convenience retail industry is an important partner of the Ontario government. We understand the government’s objective with the minimum wage increase, and hope that in its implementation measures can be taken to mitigate outcomes like the ones retailers are forecasting for Ontario,” said Bryans. “The OCSA looks forward to working with the Government of Ontario to ensure the ongoing sustainability of convenience store retailers and the jobs they provide in every community across the province.”

More than 82 per cent of surveyed retailers are now pessimistic or strongly pessimistic about the business outlook in Ontario.