Voices on Minimum Wage Increase: Troy Newton

By: Laura Steiner

Troy Newton’s Diner (Troy’s Diner) has been a staple on Main St. for the last decade.  He realizes the need for fairness when it comes to wages.  “I believe every Ontarian should earn a fair minimum wage, but every business owner should be profitable enough to pay it,” he said in a recent interview.

Newton believes it’s about balance.  A restaurant owner can make as much as 3.5% of their bottom line as long everything goes right.  The new labour reforms including minimum wage increase, and paid sick days will cost his diner $46,000/year.  It puts him in a tough spot. “If you continue to increase your prices to compensate for it, your customers aren’t going to come back.  If you don’t increase your prices, you won’t be in business to have a customer anyways.”   he said

Newton thinks more study is necessary.  “We should look at statistics, we should look at other people that have done the minimum wage to see the result,” he said.  Newton cited Seattle, Washington as his example.

In 2014 Seattle city council announced efforts to increase minimum wage to $15/hr by 2021.  In June, 2016 a study was done looking at two different increases.  The group from University of Washington looked at two different increases. The first increase implemented in April, 2015 raised the wage based on the business size and benefits from $9.47/hr to a range of $10-11 hour.  The second increased in January, 2016 bumped it up to a range of $10.50-$13/hr.  The study found the second jump had a larger impact, raising the low-wage earners’ income by 3% since 2014.  But they also saw a reduction in hours worked, by 9%.  This adds up to a total of $125 less/ month per job.

Newton has already cut back his own hours.  His diner used to be open from 6 a.m.- 8 p.m.  He now opens at 7 a.m.  It cuts full-time employee hours down by 20 hrs/ month.  Newton is known for giving back to the community.  “I’m sick to my stomach that I say no to people,” he said.  He has had to cut all sponsorship, and donations.

He has a different idea for the Liberals. “Why don’t we lower taxes for the people who are on a lower income?” Let’s lower their tax bracket so they have a higher earnings they can take home,” Newton said.

The legislation: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148)  reached the stage of its second reading in the Ontario legislature September 13, 2017.

Editor’s note: Numbers used come from the Seattle Times, June 26, 2017.