The increase in the minimum wage probably isn’t the only reason the Black Tomato is closing down but it certainly doesn’t help. As many critics have pointed out, there are probably several other factors that have led to the demise of the ByWard Market restaurant.
But whether or not it’s partially or entirely responsible for the closure isn’t the point. I’ve talked to several business owners who say they will increase their prices, cut back on operating hours or reduce employee shifts to cut costs. The impact will also be felt by local charities, many of whom employ minimum-wage workers to deliver services to the community. Since they can’t raise their prices, they’ll have to do less for their clients.
It’s too late to change the increase but there’s still time for the province to support the affected businesses and charities, using the extra payroll taxes the government will collect from employers and employees. After originally tying minimum wage to inflation, the government is now artificially boosting it by 30% in the space of one year. The least it can do is help with the transition.