A group that represents restaurant owners says New Brunswick missed a chance to create jobs by rejecting the idea of a separate lower minimum wage for workers who get tips.


Labour Minister Martine Coulombe says a single minimum wage is the right standard of pay for the province. (CBC)

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association had been lobbying for a lower rate for workers who earn tips, an idea that was rejected Wednesday by the province.

CRFA vice-president Luc Erjavec said the province squandered a job creation opportunity.

"Competitive provinces like Quebec next door and Maine both have a tip differential," said Erjavec.

"It works well and it helps grow and protect employment."

Erjavec said restaurants have been squeezed by a 20 per cent increase in the minimum wage over the past two years. He said 30 cents of every dollar spent in restaurants goes to wages, and people who make tips make far more than minimum wage.

He said the government does deserve credit for taking a hard look at the idea, and for delaying a 50-cent increase to $10 an hour until April 1.

Erjavec said he will continue to bring the issue forward on behalf of his members.

"It protects employment, helps grow small businesses, and I think at some point, hopefully, the government of New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, or P.E.I. will wake up and realize that this is a common tool used. Probably 85 per cent of Canadians are now governed by this type of legislation."

Labour Minister Martine Coulombe said Wednesday's decision to reject a two-tiered minimum wage was made after consultation with business, employees and the general public and that a single general minimum wage is the right standard of pay for the province.

She won't say a tip differential is a bad idea, but the minimum wage board and cabinet have opted for the status quo, and the file is closed.

"We will still work to find better ways next year to increase the minimum wage to be sure that it will not affect the business side," she said.