The minimum wage debate has been raging in Canada.

Here in Alberta, it became a buzzword when Rachel Notley’s NDP government came into power and promised to gradually raise it to $15 an hour.

Ontario has now become the minimum wage talking point of the country with the wage rising to $14 an hour this month.

And at the centre of the debate over the last few weeks has been one of the most iconic Canadian chains – Tim Hortons.

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In response to the minimum wage raise, several Ontario locations took away paid breaks and cut contributions to their health plan. Other locations told employees that they could no longer accept tips.

The franchise owners blamed the Ontario government for the lack of assistance and financial help to deal with the recent rise in wage.

While the franchise owners are trying to use the ‘small business owner’ narrative – it should be noted that anyone who applies to own a Time Horton’s franchise must have a net worth of at least $1.5 million.

One of the franchises that cut employees paid breaks and benefits is owned by Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce (Tim Horton’s daughter) and Ron Joyce Jr. (the son of Ron Joyce, who co-founded the chain). According to VICE, Ron Joyce’s net worth is around 1.4 billion US.

It is estimated a Tim Hortons worker makes around $20,000 a year.

Tim Hortons released an official statement saying ‘Let us be perfectly clear. These recent actions by a few Restaurant Owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a “rogue group” claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons®, do not reflect the values of our brand.’

Canadians weren’t having it.

Protestors took to the streets from coast to coast to stand up for workers’ rights. Canadian’s know that this is wrong and are told Tim Hortons that they will not stand for it.

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Many have said that this is an example of why unions are needed now more than ever.

Martin Regg Cohn pointed out in a recent column for the Toronto Star that ‘governments can’t legislate against every injustice, the media can’t cover every story, and the public has a limited attention span.’ We need unions.

Unions make sure their members are treated fairly, work in a safe environment, are paid a fair wage, covered by proper health and welfare plans and are given the breaks they are deserved. They level the playing field between the employer and the employee – especially when the employer is a multibillion dollar company.

Teamsters 362 is proud to stand by Tim Hortons’ workers who deserve a fair workplace. Tim Hortons to many represents something engrained in Canadian society, so let’s make sure we take care of the people who work there.

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