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An Ottawa labour council has set up a hotline to allow employees to report on companies that are cutting paid breaks and other benefits following Ontario’s minimum wage hike on Jan. 1.

Sean McKenny, the president of the Ottawa and District Labour Council, says the council started the hotline after hearing about two Tim Hortons franchises in Cobourg, Ont. that are cutting paid breaks and benefits, but also due to “whispers” of similar moves by businesses in Ottawa.

Read: Ontario minimum wage hike blamed for benefit cuts at two Tim Hortons outlets

McKenny says the response to the hotline and its associated email address has been “heavy.”

“It’s been busy since we went to launch, which was probably about 2-2:30 p.m. or so on Friday. But right through the weekend up until this morning, a number of calls have come in, calls and emails,” he says.

The information, once verified, will be published on social media. McKenny feels it’s important to give consumers an informed choice about what businesses they support, but notes it’s also crucial to validate the information.

“We’re not just receiving those calls from those workers and others and automatically going up with [the company’s] name,” he says. “We want to talk to the owners if they’ll talk to us, and they don’t have to, but if they choose to speak with us, just to let them know what our plan is in respect to letting others know the way that, to us, it appears they’re taking this out on their employees, on the workers there.”

Read: Benefits cuts by Tim Hortons franchises premature: NDP critic

The council’s intention isn’t to initiate a boycott of these businesses, adds McKenny. “That’s the furthest thing from our mind. We want to be able to try and help,” he says. “We can certainly appreciate that if a business closes its doors, that those workers won’t have a job anymore, so that’s the last thing that we want to create. We think there’s some common ground here. We think there’s a way to ensure that those small businesses and others can continue to operate in the same manner . . .”

The council also understands some employers are upset, but McKenny notes it isn’t fair for companies to take out their frustration with the provincial government on workers. “It’s not their fault, they haven’t done anything throughout this whole process.

“I also know these businesses were informed more than a year ago that this was going to happen,” he adds. “So, again, it’s a head scratcher why actions and business plans weren’t changed and coordinated to be able to do deal with [the minimum wage hike] in a different manner.”

Read: Have your say: Are new labour law changes a concern for employers?

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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Pamela:

People do realize that paid benefits are a privilege and not a right, correct?

The backlash I feel is ridiculous. Many do not have benefits and if they do, a lot pay a portion of the premiums. The intention is not to create boycotts yet that is exactly what the outcome will be. These companies are not breaching any labour laws.

Monday, January 08 at 12:00 pm | Reply

Ray:

What do you expect business’ to do? This is a massive increase in expenses for small business. I am sure they are looking at all aspects of their business for opportunities to mitigate the minimum wage increase. Benefits and labour costs are part of it. These entrepreneurs didn’t risk everything they had to lose money. I’m not the least bit surprised. This is only the beginning.

Monday, January 08 at 12:24 pm | Reply

Joe Nunes:

Just back from lunch at Wendy’s. Susan works two days a week, Monday & Tuesday, she wasn’t there today. They have cut the staff from 7 to 5 to accommodate the increased wages costs.

Hopefully Susan can afford the reduced hours but not everyone is going to be a winner in this.

To me, if Tims cut some benefits and everyone kept their jobs then that might be the kindest way to deal with the imposition of higher costs.

Monday, January 08 at 12:46 pm | Reply

mike:

Where I work temp workers make more than I . as well as new people starting the same job. this is wrong.

Sunday, January 14 at 8:53 am | Reply

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