Convenience store owners want delayed minimum wage increase

Ryan Ross
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Labour minister Janice Sherry


Convenience stores will struggle to keep up if the government continues increasing minimum wage on P.E.I., says a spokesman for the industry in Atlantic Canada.

Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, said the New Brunswick government has halted a planned minimum wage increase and P.E.I. should too.

“We’d love to see them do the same thing,” he said.

The P.E.I. government is gradually increasing minimum wage in three phases with an eventual goal of $10 per hour by April 1, 2012.

In June the wage went up to $9.30 per hour and the next increase is set for Oct. 1 when it goes up to $9.60.

New Brunswick’s minimum wage was supposed to increase from $9.50 to $10 per hour on Sept. 1, but last week Premier David Alward chose to delay it because of concerns over rising unemployment.

Hammoud said there are a lot of disadvantages to sudden increases in minimum wage and although retailers do think workers need a reasonable wage, the cost of doing business makes it unprofitable.

That can lead to staff cuts or fewer hours for workers with the business owners working more, he said.

“They end up working extremely long hours and some of them are even forced into closure.”

Hammoud said gasoline, tobacco and lottery tickets, which are the top three sellers in convenience stores, are regulated by government so the same group that sets the wages also sets the prices for those items.

“They become the three biggest revenue generators in our business but they become the three smallest profit generators in our business.”

Although the plan is to gradually increase minimum wage, Hammoud said it has already increased a lot and wages used to represent a much smaller portion of a business’s costs.

“Now your wages are your number one cost of doing business.”

Hammoud said the price of products will increase as minimum wage goes up, which means their cost of living will also go up.

“It’s like a vicious cycle that we have.”

While he said the $0.30 increase is fair, Hammoud would like to see minimum wage stay at $9.60 per hour.

“I don’t know too many businesses that see two profit increases in one year.”

Labour Minister Janice Sherry is the minister responsible for the wage increases and attempts were made to contact her but she was unavailable, although she did issue a statement.

Sherry said the Employment Standards Board is required to review P.E.I.’s minimum wage rate at least once a year.

“This process is completed at an arms-length and public input is received during the review.”

It was the board that recommended increasing minimum wage by $1 per hour, she said.

In her statement Sherry also said the board considered the social and economic effects of minimum wage rates in P.E.I., cost of living increases, current economic conditions and minimum wage rates in the other Atlantic Provinces.

“Gradually raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour helps to bring Prince Edward Island in line with the other Atlantic provinces, while ensuring employers have time to adjust to the changes.”



Organizations: Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, Employment Standards Board

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Atlantic Canada Atlantic Provinces

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Recent comments

  • Get real
    August 09, 2011 - 02:46

    You expect me to pay $6 for a can of Pringles, but you also don't want to pay your workers according to the LEGAL PROVINCIAL STANDARD. Get bent, really. If you can't afford to pay your workers, close it down. Pretty simple responsible business practice really.

  • Islandgal
    August 08, 2011 - 19:44

    While I agree that we need to bring the minimum wage up to meet the cost of living increases that we have seen over the last couple of decades, I'm afraid that this is impossible. For every increase you see to minimum wage, you will see further increases in the cost of goods sold to help offset wages. This may not be fair but it is reality. There is no fair way to close the gap that has been created over the years without causing undue hardship to small business owners. For those of you who keep complaining that we have more corporately run convenience stores and that they won't be affected by this increase, please review the facts. The Needs stores like some others are generally franchised and the franchisees do NOT own $200,000 homes and multiple vehicles. They do well from their meager agreements to pay their own costs of living so increases like this do result in lost hours to staff while the owners are working longer days to make up the difference. Again, this may not be fair but it is reality. While they are increasing the minimum wage, they need to make provisions for the employees who are making above minimum wage so that they don't end up watching the gap between pay brackets get smaller every time. These are the employees who have worked hard for their raises and now end up making 10 cents more than Joe Blow who was hired last week. Lets see the labour board convince the Corporations to revise their contracts to accomodate these wage increases as well. And finally, while you are complaining about how cheap the convenience store owners are, think about the last time you drove an extra six blocks to go to Sobey's or Superstore so that you saved 30 cents on the can of soup you needed for lunch. Support your local business owners, the small town operators who would love to hire quality employees and pay them a good wage but can't afford anything more than minimum wage positions so they can keep their doors open for business.

    • Head Shaker
      August 09, 2011 - 11:40

      When I was younger I worked for just above minimum wage. If minimum wage increased, I NEVER got a raise until minimum wage exceeded what I was making. I have no sympathy for CB who hires the cheapest staff that can be found and then complains that they aren't working to his/her standards. You get what you pay for. You pay the minimum you are legally allowed to pay, expect the minimum work required not to get fired. That's life.

  • Decent wage-earner
    August 08, 2011 - 12:43

    If the convenience store owners can't afford to pay a living wage (and $10 doesn't even meet this standard) then they should get out of the business. Saying they can't afford it is no excuse for slave labor. Charles Dickens recognized this in the 19th century when boys were sent up chimneys to clean them. It's time we recognized that the responsibility of an employer is to pay a decent wage and turn a deaf ear to all this whining.

  • Pathetic is as pathetic does
    August 08, 2011 - 12:28

    It is hard to believe that this bunch have the gall to complain about the minimum wage going up this amount. They sure don't mind gouging the consumer. Hopefully the Minister will put this request very quickly in the out box. I feel the minimum wage should be more like 15 dollars a hour. I know when I started work it was 1.25 per hour and you could actually buy something with a dollar. The minimum wage has fallen behind the actual increase in the cost of living. Poor working people were farther ahead 40 years ago.

  • Quiet Observer
    August 08, 2011 - 11:08

    This is absurd. 30 cents an hour is nothing. On an 8 hour shoft, that is $2.40. Round it up to $2.75 for the additional CPP and EI contributions. If these retailers are not good enough managers to come up with an ectra $1-$2-/day to cover this for all their employees, then they shouldn't be in business. If all retailers, not just convenience store owners, in the province have the same wage increase to deal with, then all are in the same boat. Increase the cost of bars by a nickel. Or chips. Or pop. Whatever. Do the math, it is no big deal. I pay all my employees above minimum wage and will increase their wages accordingly when minimum wage goes up. And I will recoup this from my customers because my price increase will be spread across all products and will be so small that noone will even notice. And for the poster who is complaining about the quality of his new recruits. You attitude shows exactly why your employees don't perform for you. You obviously need to learn how to recruit employees and how to treat them oncde you hire them.

  • Opinions Matter
    August 08, 2011 - 09:30

    To bad, that's the price of doing business. Minimum wage is still to low!

  • weezie
    August 08, 2011 - 09:27

    To CB you say you own a business and most employees you hire are not worth $3.00. Then maybe you need to change how you hire people because the people of PEI can not live off of anything less then $10.00 . The price of food,rent and just the things you need to live are high. There are alot of islanders having to live off the food bank and a higher wage is needed to help those people feed their families . Along with the fact that most people who work in Convenience stores are students trying to get by without owing alot in student loans. They deserve a good wage and as someone else said it's even hard to get by on $10.00 and hour.

  • Jason White
    August 08, 2011 - 09:11

    Here is a thought, if you don't like working minimum wage, DONT. I have worked doing yard work, as grocery boy, bus boy, restaurant, clerk, call center, and now I own a business. I worked my way up and with hard work. A lot of my first jobs were minimum wage, it's not up to other people to make sure you have a good wage, it's up to you to further yourself and look for better jobs. People have no idea what it takes to run a business, while the employee has set hours, as a business owner you work long hours and don't get paid for them. You should be happy for people who do well for themselves as they work hard for it and help people to get work, try being positive and stop tearing people down.

    • Student
      August 08, 2011 - 19:40

      ... You want people to further themselves, and to do that, they need an education... most places with flexible hours do not pay more than minimum wage. Working 3 jobs to put myself through school, it's hard, damn hard to make it on minimum wage. My pay cheque doesn't even last a day, I've walked 2 hours in each direction for a few weeks at a time to get to and from work and school because I couldn't afford public transit or the gas for my car.. some months there's a choice between eating or being able to get to work so that maybe, just maybe I'll be able to make more than minimum wage someday.

  • james
    August 08, 2011 - 08:58

    all the real corner stores in chtown that i grew up going to are long gone, god i miss two for one burgers, anyways, Sholto is right, majority of stores here are owned by large corporations,

  • just so you know
    August 08, 2011 - 08:44

    I know one store owner that has a big house,2 $40,000 mustangs ,a big motorhome,2 motorbikes ,2 speedboats,atv,snowmobile,in ground swiming pool,suv,so don't tell me they can't afford the .30 cent increase in wages.

  • additionally
    August 08, 2011 - 08:05

    To convenience store owners, I say ''Too frigging bad !'' PEI has the worst wages in Canada. At least bring us up to the national average. We're no bigger than the city of Kingston, Ontario so having our tiny population at least at the national average (or higher) is not going to be a burden on employers. Maybe you won't need so many employees but the ones that you have should be well paid.

  • Cb
    August 08, 2011 - 07:31

    I own a business. More than half of the people I hire are not worth $3.00 per hour. problem is it takes a couple weeks-month of giving them 40-per week to give them a long enough chance to figure this out and all the mistakes they make(which add up to $50/hour). So after a month of paying a terrible employee (this new generation of people who don't believe in work and calling in sick so they can go to the beach) $10/hour for 40 hours for 4 weeks($1600 + cpp/ei/vacation/taxes/paying a trainer) you managed to waste 3000 or more dollars just to fire and start over... People who know nothing of business just think this is a few pennies but over a year it adds up. An it isn't just your hourly wage people it means increased cats to an employer in the way of deductions we pay to the government up and above your wages fr each hour you work. It also means you pay more taxes. Another huge issue I have is this silly provincial government saying it has to keep in line with other provinces... If you can bring the foot traffic ALL year by my store like the amount of people in Halifax, then you have the right to try and compete with wages of the other provinces. This place is a wasteland in January-April. And November is a killer.

    • If you really own a business...
      August 08, 2011 - 09:18

      ....and half the people you hire aren't worth $3.00, then you have more problems than minimum wage. Sounds like it's time for you to pack it in and get a job...I'm sure there is another employer out there in your field that would be happy to pay you minimum wage for your experience and exemplary work attitude.

    • Ann
      August 08, 2011 - 09:51

      Obviously you decided to open/operate a convenience store in a poor location if you say business is dead 5 months of the year. It costs your employees the same to live no matter where you are located so do not use the fact that there is less foot traffic there than in Halifax to keep wages lower. At least if it's dead you'll need to pay for less help... Being a small business owner is a choice not a right. Earning a liveable salary is a right. Btw, it sounds like you need to better screen who you are hiring if you are having as much trouble as you claim. There are alot of people willing to work for the minimum wage and the best ones stick with business where convenience, or other benefits outside of money, are offered. Being a small business owner is a lot of work and usually high risk. Maybe you are just not cut out for it.

    • wow
      August 08, 2011 - 11:07

      with that attitude no wonder you can't get good employees or maybe you just know what you are doing when it comes to working with people

    • Head Shaker
      August 08, 2011 - 11:51

      Two questions automatically come to mind. 1- Who is hiring them? and 2- Why are better quality workers not applying for your positions? I suspect the answer is not that either better workers are too lazy of the entire province of PEI doesn't have anyone qualified to work in a convenience store. Perhaps 1- hire decent people, 2- Pay enough that the decent peple will actually work for you, and 3- Learn how to run a business that doesn't include hiring the dregs of society and whining that they aren't up to your standards. BTW, one thing that the CEO of HP once said in a presentation is if the owner is whining about staff being the issue, it is almost always an upper management problem.

    • Poor CB
      August 08, 2011 - 14:50

      Everyone knows that employers get to write off wages and wage expenses. So when the minimum wage goes up, so does the business expense. Think of the tax you'll save CB!

  • voter
    August 08, 2011 - 07:26

    poor convenience store owners -- maybe they should get free labour --- maybe people doing community service would work for these whiners for free

  • bad economics
    August 08, 2011 - 07:10

    actually an increase in minimum wage will have more impact on employment (less) than consumer prices. every non-Labour economic study shows that employment/hiring goes down when minimum wage goes up. But with 12% unemployment and a government that would rather give another $15 million to billionaires or spend $1 million on a rock concert, we shouldn't be surprised.

  • grampie
    August 08, 2011 - 07:06

    I wonder what the convenience store owners would think if they were forced to reduce their prices by 10 or 15%. If they did maybe more people would shop there. It is time for them to shut up and pay their employees a proper wage. Therefore the government should not hold off on their planned minimum wage increases. If they want to lure good and honest workers, maybe paying more then minimum wage would not be a bad idea. But you can't expect them to do away with their toys et, can we?.

  • RG
    August 08, 2011 - 05:23

    How I wish minimum wage would've been this high when I was in school. Less than 10 years ago I was working part time at a gas station while going to university for under $6 per hour.

  • poor and tired
    August 07, 2011 - 23:40

    Employers are always going gripe and groan about how much they have to pay today's employee, regardless of the 300,000 dollar home they live in or the BMW and speed boat sitting in the drive way ( mind you not every employer has these toys). It is a shame that they think that the people who are on min wag can afford to live with reduce hours crappy pay and crappy treatment, it is funny how this problem has been unsolved and will continue to be unsolved forever, since status was first established the struggle has been there and as long as status plays a factor in society it will continue to be this way. Humans are greedy and selfish and nothing will change that. any war we have seen certainly has not opened our eyes, seeing starving babies in third world countries dying does not change this. while we complain we are so bored and not sure where to go on vacation children are dying to eat food and drink water, min wage is the least of our worries honestly, maybe if we were not so tempted with distractions and waste our money on stupid fast food and candy and video games and big screen t.v's and the newest gadgets and trying to keep up with the Jones', min wage could be something we could live off of. I am just as guilty with everything i have mentioned above, I am just stating I at least notice where we are going wrong as an entire world, no one seems to think in the big picture anymore, sadly we are all doomed and i am helping doom us just as the rest of us.

  • Chris
    August 07, 2011 - 23:29

    I have no issue with the minimum wage increasing just so long as the rest of the public will not complain when prices for goods and services also goes up. Increasing the minimum wage will not put more money into people's pockets. In the end everyone will have the same as they do today because in order for stores and businesses to pay the in crease prices will just rise. It is not rocket science...ot is pretty basic just so long as everyone understands.

  • Thaddeus Sholto
    August 07, 2011 - 22:57

    Are not a lot of the convenience stores like needs owned by Sobeys. The Irving stores in the gas stations are of course owned by the Irvings. There are also convenience stores in PetroÇan and Esso gas stations. There are some small locally owned stores, but a lot are owned by the chains. So are these chains saying they don't want to pay a living wage to their workers? And if so why not? And to the local stores - if you don't not want to pay a decent wage to your friends and neighbors why should I or other Islanders spend our hard earned money in your establishment. You obviously don't resect your workers by paying a decent wage so why should we be come into your shop to support you?

    • John MacInnis
      August 08, 2011 - 05:37

      Thaddeus Sholto, I'm not worthy. Excellent comment. You're right on the money, and nothing else needs to be said. But a lot more is going to be said, and that's good, because many workers on the Island are going to be making minimum wage at their jobs, when minimum wage surpasses what they are currently being paid.

    • a working mom
      August 08, 2011 - 09:49

      40 hours per week at 9.30/hr...BEFORE i lose the taxes,is approx..372/week....PLUS pay a babysitter for 2 children at a special rate of 150/ week...doesn't leave much to go on for groceries and heat, lights, gas to get to work and babysitters...and any other emergencies that may arise does it?????? try WANTING to help people like us that have to calculate EVERY PENNY we spend...and see the kids faces when we can't do that or we can't do this because we don't get paid enough to live so comfortably as others do!!!! keep the pay increase... we need it...

    • Resident Kane
      August 08, 2011 - 09:53

      These Petro Can and needs stores are franchised out and do have individual owners who pay into the big wigs. I do believe it is ridiculous that they are complaining about this when they are owners of a businesses and can't keep up because the own a suv and a $200,000 home and whatnot. A convenience store that is open 24 hours paying an extra 70 cents per hour equals out to $16.80. Not sure what the shift premiums and overtime is but I couldn't see this costing them any more than $35 per day extra. Execpt when there are 2 people on for say 12 hours so it would be in the 50-60 range. Try some promotional sales or something to move product faster in bulk thus equaling more profit. Take a couple shifts yourself. Problem solved.

  • Jeremy
    August 07, 2011 - 22:07

    The thing i have to laugh at is people expect other people to work for free.. The thing is everything is going up, people need to make more money just to live in today's world 10 dollars a hour you can't even live off 10 dollars a hour, I know it would be tough for business to adapt to especially places like Cavendish who struggle at times of the season but that's life. Everything is going up in today's world minus peoples wages and something has to be done.. People can't even afford to live on this island due to low paying jobs which a lot of P.E.I is low paying jobs.. Its reality People have to get paid more to keep up with the bills etc electric is going up gas is going up food has gone up. Sorry business owners but it has to happen sooner then later people are not going to work for free..

  • disgusted
    August 07, 2011 - 21:58

    Give me a break!!!!!! How would you like to work for ten dollars an hour? Wise up!!!!!

  • Really
    August 07, 2011 - 21:14

    Try working for Minimum wage and see if ya wanna put a freeze on it.......