A national day of action was held at Tim Horton’s locations across Toronto in response to some franchise holders cutting breaks and health benefits of employees due to Ontario’s minimum wage increases. A protest held outside Sidney Smith Hall, hosted by a group named Fight for $15 Fairness, featured speeches by U of T students, alumni, and former Tim Hortons workers, urging the university to keep the breaks of and benefits for Tim Hortons’ employees.
“As students, we are all too much aware of the world of precarious and underpaid work that makes tuition a struggle and that awaits us when we graduate,” stated U of T philosophy student Julia DaSilva, who is also the organizer for the U of T branch of Fight for Fairness.
“That’s why it’s so important that students show up for campus workers in times like this. Because that same logic of austerity, the same claims that there isn’t enough to go around when we all know that there is, that same line of reason that allows Tim Horton’s to get away with the scare tactics that they are using, that’s creating this dangerous precarious world that we are inheriting,” said DaSilva.
The group shouted chants such as “Shame,” and “Hold the sugar hold the cream. Tim Hortons, don’t be mean.”
Speeches criticized the heirs of the company, Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri-Lynn Horton Joyce, for their intent to cut breaks in light of their large fortune.
“I used to be a U of T student and I remember how much I paid for tuition, which is why there were many summers when I was working a minimum wage job, sometimes three minimum wage jobs, to pay my own tuition. That is not acceptable in this province, no one should have to do that,” U of T alumni Angela Zhu stated.
According to the Went Canadian Centre for policy alternatives, the living wage for Toronto in 2017 was $17.52.
“That’s the least you can make to pay your rent, pay your bills and clothes and feed your kids. We’re only asking $14 dollars, that’s still a poverty wage, and apparently Tim Hortons still can’t even do that,” Zhu said.
“Tim Hortons is essentially saying that these workers do not deserve to be able to afford to put a roof over their heads and I think that’s disgusting.”
The protest was also attended by local labour union Cope Ontario.
News broke on January 3rd that heirs to the Tim Hortons franchise, who manage a location in Cobourg Ontario, claimed they were implementing the cutbacks in order to accommodate the minimum wage increase to $14. Those reports have sparked protests and boycotts of the chain throughout the province.
Tim Hortons workers across the U of T campuses are unionized and are not expected to be impacted by any cutbacks.