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Ontario servers express concerns on the future of tipping

HospitalityOntario servers express concerns on the future of tipping

Since the announcement about adjustments to minimum wage in Ontario, servers have been dealing with mixed feelings about the decision. 

As of January 1, servers in the province now make the same $15 per hour as all other minimum wage workers, a move that many believe should have been made much earlier. Prior to the changes, liquor servers had a different minimum wage than other industries, making $12.55 compared to $14.35. 

While the raise itself has been well received, some servers worry about how it could affect tipping culture in the industry.

Darcy Penders, a server at Capeesh Kitchen and Cellar in Paris, said that concerns have been raised in conversations between her coworkers and friends working in service jobs.

“While it’s great to be recognized with the wage increase, we have seen some upsetting comments on social media about how this decision will cause people to stop tipping,” she said. “Tips are a major part of our income, we work hard to provide the best service for them. I have worked a number of other minimum wage jobs and I can honestly say that I work twice as hard in this industry. That’s where the tipping comes in, it balances out the wage for the amount of work.”

Tipping has become a major topic of debate not only in Ontario, but across Canada and the whole world. Many believe that it should not be the patrons’ responsibility to help servers be properly compensated for their work, while others think that tipping is a sign of gratitude for the service that was provided.

The restaurant industry and its workers have faced some of the harshest restrictions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from forced closures to ever changing rules. Restaurants are dealing with staffing shortages due to the instability that employees have faced over the past two years.

“Our restaurant has been pretty lucky to maintain most of its staff throughout the pandemic but I know of a lot of people that left the industry to find something more reliable,” Penders said. “I think if tipping begins to phase out of the service industry, a lot of workers will leave for different jobs, myself included.”

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