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'I think it's an outrage': Regina rally supports Ont. Tim Hortons employees facing reduced hours, breaks

Despite the distance between Saskatchewan and Ontario, Regina residents are standing up for Tim Hortons employees to the east.

But CFIB says business owners face uncertainties, such as tax changes, when miminum wage rises

Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, says he would like to work with Ontario Tim Hortons franchisees on a union plan. (Rob Kruk/CBC News)

Despite the distance between Saskatchewan and Ontario, Regina residents are standing up for Tim Hortons employees to the east.

Armed with clipboards and labour study facts, Fight for 15 volunteers eagerly approached the bustling public at both the University of Regina and Cornwall Centre on Friday in support of the affected Ontario workers.

"I think it's an outrage," said Nick Day, a volunteer with Fight for 15. "I think it's disingenuous, I think it's unfair and I think people know it's unfair."

Nick Day, a volunteer with Fight for 15, asks people in line at the University of Regina Tim Hortons location to sign a petition to see minimum wage increased. (Rob Kruk/SRC)

Fight for 15 is a global organization created to help increase minimum wage to $15.

It organized the multi-location petition and rally after a Tim Hortons store in Ontario cut hours and paid breaks and clawed back benefits.

Franchise owners said the cuts came as a result of minimum wage increases.

Sask. Federation of Labour speaks out

Recently, the president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour sent a letter to the CEO of the Tim Hortons parent company, Daniel Schwartz, urging him to reinstate workers with their original benefits, work hours and breaks.

"First of all, this shouldn't happen anywhere," said Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. "Vulnerable workers aren't in a position to be able to actually challenge those kinds of decisions of their employers."

Hubich said this is a matter of respect for workers and a minor increase in product cost could have helped avoid cutbacks.

The other side of the argument

The decision made in Ontario wasn't necessarily easy to make — but sometimes it needs to happen in order to keep a business afloat, according to Marilyn Braun-Pollon, vice president of agri-business with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says she understands why raising the minimum wage by 20 per cent has hurt business owners in Ontario. (CBC)
There's this magical myth that business owners have some magical money tree in the backyard.- Marilyn  Braun-Pollon , Canadian Federation of Independent Business

"This was about a franchisee and it would be devastating to an independent company with 25 employees," said Braun-Pollon.

"There's this magical myth that business owners have some magical money tree in the backyard," she added.

When minimum wage is raised, people need to understand business owners face uncertainties, such as federal tax changes and increasing employment insurance, Braun-Pollon said.

"This is just one slice of the difficult decisions that Ontario business owners are having to face," she said.