More expensive coffee might be only answer to Tim Hortons dilemma

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 8, 2018 - 6:49am
Image Credit: Facebook

KAMLOOPS —There’s nothing quite like pulling through a Tim Hortons drive-through to get the day started with a coffee and a donut.

Fast service, good coffee, cheap, and it’s all Canadian.

Well, not so much the last part, because Tim’s is a multi-national now, but it’s still a big part of our culture.

But there are clouds on the horizon. A number of Tim’s restaurants in Ontario have cut employee benefits, such as paid breaks and free coffee, and might even make staff pay for their own uniforms.

Tim’s franchisees aren’t the only businesses looking for ways to cut labour costs as Ontario continues to increase the minimum wage, $14 an hour as of Jan. 1, rising to $15 next year.

Tim’s employees work hard for their minimum wage. Taking away the most basic of benefits is hardly the way to build a team.

And it won’t be a shock if there are job losses. Neither will it be surprising if Tim Hortons franchises in other provinces eventually seek similar answers to rising labour costs.

B.C.’s minimum wage went up 50 cents an hour last September, bringing it to $11.35. Though we won’t match Ontario’s $15 until 2021, business leaders say it’s too much, too soon.

Even $15 an hour isn’t much of a living. You don’t take out a mortgage or buy a new car on that kind of wage. There’s already talk of a boycott in Ontario, with Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians saying she’ll stop buying at Tim’s.

A boycott — either in Ontario or here in B.C. in solidarity — isn’t likely to help employees, though it might hurt the independent franchisees who are trying to make their own living.

The whole thing is a public relations nightmare for the Tim Hortons head office, which doesn’t condone franchise owners cutting employee benefits.

The only answer might be to let each Tim’s restaurant set its own prices, which would mean a small part of being a Canadian could soon get a little more expensive.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.