September 10, 2017
In recent analyst calls held by Metro Inc. and Loblaw Cos. Ltd., executives indicated that planned minimum-wage increases in Alberta and Ontario would add significantly to labour expenses and put pressure on the industry in 2018. Both companies are committed to mitigating those impacts by accelerating efficiencies and achieving cost reductions, but the take-away for analysts was that the retail industry is facing a significant cost increase in the short term.
Unfortunately, that echoes the prevailing view among many on Bay Street and in executive suites across the country – that workers are exclusively a cost to the business. That may be why investment analysts walk away from these quarterly calls only having heard – and only having asked, for that matter – about the cost side of the equation.
The other side of the equation warrants much more attention: how paying higher wages and improving workplace practices can be an investment in the business.