An increase of minimum wage to $15.00 per hour effective January 2022. This decision has caught all small businesses off guard with no consultation or discussion with any groups representing the industry and looks more like electioneering as we lead up to the June 2022 election.
This is a difficult topic as most will agree part time employees deserve a raise, especially with the continued inflation and costs of goods increasing.
Convenience Store operators and owners should weigh in to this decision by not opposing the increase, but pointing out the industry needs action and support in three areas to help us offset the ongoing costs of business with little understanding of operational costs from a government perspective.
No one is opposed to employees earning a decent minimum wage but we need to see some movement on promises and margins to help us survive in every community.
Here are some key points:
A) Lottery Commission: Our industry has been asking for an increase in commissions from the present 5% (online sales) and 8% (scratch tickets). Convenience Stores cannot increase the retail cost of lottery tickets as this is a fixed sale price by OLG, therefore this does not allow us to offset labour, rent and increased delivery costs.
Keep in mind, the convenience store industry has not had a commission increase for over 30 years and we sell 80% of all lottery tickets for the Ontario government.
B) Beverage Alcohol: We ask the government to please live up to your promise of allowing all Convenience stores to sell beer/wine in Ontario. This, of course, would create additional sales and traffic in all Convenience stores while offering local convenience, selection and; competition for all consumers. Since it was promised in 2019, we have seen the retail and sales expansion in many channels but not the promised convenience store.
C) Contraband Tobacco: Convenience stores sell 95% of all legal cigarettes collecting all taxes. However, we continue to see 30% of all cigarettes being sold on and off aboriginal reserves with minimal action by the government to correct this ongoing issue. We need action on the illegal distribution and sales of untaxed cigarettes. These are our customers, and the government cannot continue to ignore this issue as discussed in past budgets.
Retailers should and need to reach out to their local MPP’s office and express the need to work with us on the above three (3) points. These are not new initiatives but areas where local MPPs and Ministers are aware but have not moved forward. We need a wide range of convenience store owners to make some noise to let the government know we need help. Feel free to cut and paste the issues and send them off to your local MPP office.
We will send along additional information as we get updates.