Tim Hortons' response to minimum wage hikes sparks series of protests

Members of Ontario Federation of Labour protest outside a Tim Hortons franchise in Toronto on Jan. 10 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Chris Young

Members of Ontario Federation of Labour protest outside a Tim Hortons franchise in Toronto on Jan. 10 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Chris Young

The information pickets are in response to a Tim Hortons location in Coburg that was clawing back workers benefits, paid breaks and other perks.

Another protester, Beixi Liu, part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness movement, called on Tim Hortons' parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) to take action against franchisees' employee cutbacks.

A Tim Hortons franchise in Kingston was one of 50 locations across Ontario at which a "day of action" rally was held on Friday afternoon to bring attention to labour practices by some Tim Hortons franchisees in the wake of Ontario's minimum wage hike.

The protests began after Jeri Horton-Joyce and Ron Joyce Jr., the children of the brand's billionaire co-founders, rolled out the controversial measures at two Cobourg, Ont., locations they own.

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According to the Tim Hortons' employees, Tim Hortons offers workers an ideal work environment, or at least so it used to, until before the cut backs were made.

Smith could not describe how specific franchises across the country were selected for the protests but said they were chosen by local members of the Fight for $15 and Fairness, which she said number 500,000.

Peter Chirico, president and chief executive officer of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged the right to protest.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the passing of the "Fair Workplaces Act' (Bill 148)".

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"When I said franchise owners should take their fight to me, I didn't mean they should use their employees as pawns", Wynne wrote in a post on Twitter.

"They have to run their businesses", he said, suggesting price increases and other measures are to be expected given the speed at which the additional costs related to the legislation have been thrust upon businesses.

"This whole rearguard action by some individuals seems to be contrary to the wishes of the people of Ontario and contrary to the spirit of the changes in the first place", he said.

He minimum wage earners deserve a living wage, adding that no one should have to visit a food bank after working an eight-hour shift.

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Urqhart also said introducing a higher minimum wage over a period of a few years would be a good start for a small business like his.

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