Ottawa businesses weigh in on minimum wage hike

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A public hearing provincial bill that would increase Ontario’s minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2019 was held in Ottawa on Wednesday.

The Ontario government’s committee of finance and economic affairs heard from a range of residents from both sides of the labour market.

Some, like Jessica Carpinone, owner of Bread by Us Artisanal Bakery, were in support of the increase.

“I’m living proof that businesses can go above and beyond,” she told the committee, noting that she builds fair wages into her business plan.

Others, like Phil Weaver, owner of 28 hair salons in the Ottawa region, said that the increase will force price increases.

“We try to be an affordable haircut provider, and unfortunately we’re sitting at about $19 a haircut,” he told the committee. “Those prices are going to have to go up.”

In May, three of Ottawa’s largest business organizations joined a campaign led by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to scuttle the package of provincial labour reforms that included the minimum wage increase.

Following a brief lunch-hour demonstration on the corner of George and Dalhousie, union and pro-worker activists were physically barred from entering the Marriot Hotel, where the hearing was being held.

While the hearing was technically an extension of the Ontario legislature — a public space — the Marriot Hotel’s lobby, elevator, staircase, and lobby are not public. Union activists were not permitted into the public hearing.

Employees blocked the front entrance of the hotel and sounded the security alarms to keep approximately half a dozen protestors from entering. The activists continued to demonstrate outside, while singing the pro-union song We Shall Not Be Moved, until police arrived to break up the demonstration.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.