Starting at the end of this month, every employee at True North Climbing in Toronto, Canada will make at least $14 an hour, a more than $2 an hour raise for some. (All dollars are Canadian.) The current minimum wage in Ontario is $11.40 an hour and is scheduled to reach $15 an hour by 2019. The planned increase would be phased in over the next 18 months, starting at $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, before reaching $15 the following January.
The early move by True North owner, John Gross is an effort keep up with rising costs of living but more so to provide a livable wage to his employees. “People need to live, they need to eat … I think $15 is the more reasonable minimum wage for people to be able to support themselves,” Gross told the CBC.
The raise will have an impact on about 10 minimum wage employees at True North Climbing, though Gross said almost all 40 of his employees will receive a raise.
To be able to pay out the raise, Gross needs to also raise prices. “It’s a very significant increase in my expenses. Wages are more than half of my expenses,” he said. “So raising prices is really my only option,” he said. Day passes will go from $20 to $22 and an annual prepaid membership from $694.95 to $734.50.
Gross said it wasn’t just wages driving the increase. Recent renovations and continued expenses also played a role in the decision, but the ability to give his employees a living wage was the most important factor.
“I think all businesses should pay their workers a wage that lets them support themselves,” he said. “I think people will mostly accept it. I hope they understand the reasons.”