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Lindsay's Tim Hortons not willing to talk about wages, employee incentives
We continue to talk about Tim Hortons as if it’s a Canadian company. It is not. In 2014, there was a $12.5-billion takeover of Tim Hortons by Brazilian-based 3G Capital.

Lindsay’s Tim Hortons not willing to talk about wages, employee incentives

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Last week’s national headlines were dominated by the Tim Hortons brand. Not surprising.

In nearby Cobourg, the owners of the local Tim Hortons there (who just happen to be Ron Joyce Jr., son of Tim Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce, and Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce, daughter of Tim Horton) decided they could no longer afford to pay staff for workday breaks.

Publisher Roderick Benns.

That means workers’ nine-hour shifts would yield just eight hours and 20 minutes of pay. Not only that but some benefits’ costs were going to shift to employees, while other incentives were scrapped.

This Cobourg Tim Hortons’ franchise was responding to the Province moving swiftly to a $14 an hour minimum wage, up $2.60 an hour overnight on Jan. 1. Minimum wage will go up $15 an hour this time next year.

I thought it would be important for The Lindsay Advocate to give local Tim Hortons’ franchisees a chance to go on the record. For all I knew, they had no such plans, which means employees might actually be better off with their higher minimum wage.

I personally called five Lindsay Tim Hortons, hoping to find out what their plans were. One Tim Hortons franchise owner, known to me only as ‘Allan’ (possible incorrect spelling), hung up as soon as I identified myself and why I was calling. That was the downtown 191 Kent Street West location.

The Mount Hope Street location, owned by Ryan Graham, never returned my call. Ditto for the Lindsay Street South location owned by Ken and Shelby Hunter.

I was told to “contact head office” at the 329 Kent Street West location because the owner had no comment.

Finally, the manager of the Tim Hortons location on Hwy 35 South told me she wasn’t allowed to even tell me the owner’s name and that they had no comment anyway.

My only intent was to find out how our local Tim Hortons’ locations were responding to the Province’s decision to create something closer to a living wage for people. The fact that all five that I contacted either hid behind “no comment” or some variation makes me wonder what it is they don’t want to talk about.

Do they have similar plans for their employees as the Cobourg location’s owners? If so, why not discuss why this might be? There’s no doubt the Province’s minimum wage increase will be challenging for local businesses – even for big-name franchisees like Tim Hortons. Speaking to The Lindsay Advocate would have given them a chance to go on the record and talk about it.

Corporate Soul

We continue to talk about Tim Hortons as if it’s a Canadian company. It is not.

In 2014, there was a $12.5-billion takeover of Tim Hortons by Brazilian-based 3G Capital, Restaurant Brands International’s largest shareholder.

Tim Hortons sold its corporate soul to this multinational four years ago. Its new owners have been in the business news pages for years now, cutting and aggressively expanding around the world.

I feel some empathy for the individual Tim Hortons franchise owners, too, who have seen more and more profits taken from their hands to line the pockets of the corporation instead.

Fair Taxation

Low income earners in Canada used to be able to support their families decades ago because there was a level of fair taxation.

Last month, the Toronto Star teamed up with Corporate Knights Magazine and analyzed the financial filings of Canada’s 102 biggest corporations. Their research showed that these huge companies have avoided paying $62.9 billion in income taxes over the past six years.

Sixty-five years ago, the Star notes that people and corporations contributed equal amounts of income tax to the Canadian government.

In 2015/16 — the most recent statistics available — Canadians paid $145 billion in income tax, while corporations paid $41 billion.

Sound fair to you? Does it sound like Tim Hortons – the corporation – deserves your business, let alone your sympathy?

While our governments seem to have a hard time finding money to invest in much-needed public services, giant corporations are flush with more money than ever before.

Let’s demand that corporations pay their fair share in taxes, instead of individuals having to cough up more than three times as much.

In the meantime, consider getting that cup of coffee elsewhere, like Boiling Over’s Coffee Vault, Common Ground, Mickaël’s Cafe Librairie, or one of the other fine local coffee houses in town.

You can tell them a guy named Tim Horton sent you.

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

6 Comments

  1. THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE MORE WINFALL FOR BUSINESS OWNERS AND CORPORATIONS AS THEY USE A SIMPLE $3.50 AN HR RAISE (OVER 12 MONTHS) TO PAD THEIR BOTTOM LINES. WHAT THEY ARE SUBTRACTING FROM EMPLOYEES MORE THAN COVERS ANY INCREASE IN PAY . THE OLE SAYING INSTILLED TO ME BY A FORMER CLIENT I ONCE PROTECTED SOME 30 YRS AGO , “YOU DON’T GET RICH KEEPING THE ONES AROUND YOU POOR”, I HAVE SINCE REALIZED THAT THAT SAYING IS NOTHING MORE THAN A WISHFUL WIVES TALE.

  2. I think you need to do a lot more research before making articles like this. You don’t even know the franchise owners name but yet expect to get into contact with him?? Its not very hard to find that information out… and of course non of the managers are going to tell you information over the phone, even if they have absolutely nothing to hide. The minimum wage increase is only beneficial to people who are making min. wage.

  3. Hi Aaron,

    The answer to your first question is Yes. I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years. We don’t always know who we need to speak with — and that’s why we clearly identify ourselves as journalists (compared to say, salespeople.) If you read the article again, you will see I did know the franchise owners’ names in some cases but didn’t receive a call back. Yes, the minimum wage increase will primarily benefit people who are earning minimum wage — there were 1,253,000 of them in 2015, according to the Progressive Economics Forum.

  4. How is boycotting Tim Horton’s and going ‘other’ places for coffee going to help out the staff at any Tim Hortons.?? If People stop going to buy coffee from there then the owner will have no choice but to layoff employees. I would much rather be working (without) those incentives then be jobless.!!!

    • Hi Lisa… I worry about your comment as this is the exact attitude that companies (far beyond Tim Horton’s) hope that people will continue to adopt. If people don’t complain about their work environment, their hours (or lack of hours). and other work conditions and benefits, then companies will often give as little as possible. Being jobless though is a real concern now with few full-time opportunities especially. We still can’t let businesses treat us as only a commodity. We need to speak up more and more when there are injustices!

  5. @Lisa, think of the “ME TOO” movement and how the number relying together got the word out of “No More”. And it was the numbers that brought a serious issue to light. So if the same principle is applied here maybe the numbers will overcome once again and be heard. There may not be a right or wrong answer here as everyone is entitled to their own opinion and voice.

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