Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Note To Tim Hortons Head Office: Please Respect Your Workers

On Sunday, I wrote about The Toronto Star reporting that a Tim Hortons franchisee is eliminating paid breaks for his/her employees as retaliation against the June 1 increase of the minimum wage in Ontario to $11 per hour. Yesterday, I sent off a letter to the head office of the coffee and donut emporium. I would encourage others for whom this is an issue to do the same.

Here is that letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

It was with great dismay that I learned in Sunday's Toronto Star that some Tim Hortons' franchisees are retaliating against the new Ontario minimum wage by eliminating paid breaks for employees. An owner's memo released by an employee stated:

“Given this new increase, as well as continued economic and competitive pressures, increasing commodity costs and minimal increases in menu pricing, effective June 1, we will be shifting all hourly team members in the restaurant to unpaid breaks.”

While I imagine this news is most disheartening to the many who faithfully and cheerfully serve your products, you should be aware that it is also very distressing to consumers who care about workers' rates of remuneration and working conditions and try to make ethical decisions in their discretionary purchases. I am one such person among many.

Your corporate response cited in The Star, that these decisions are made at the franchise level by each individual Tim Hortons restaurant owner, consistent with provincial labour regulations, was unsatisfactory in the extreme for many reasons.

Tim Hortons has long marketed itself as a Canadian institution and icon that we should all revere as patriotic citizens. Who can forget the role your coffee and donut emporium has played over the years in bringing caffeine comfort to early-morning hockey dads, sending underprivileged kids to camp, and being in the most desolate of locations, including Afghanistan 'supporting our troops.'

Sad to say, all of that iconography rings hollow when head office absolves itself of any responsibility for the actions of its franchisees. To hide behind legalities, deferring to provincial regulations and decision-making protocols, conveys an air of corporate indifference and avarice, not leadership.

There is no doubt in my mind that should this controversy have a negative effect on your very profitable operations, the lamentations about price pressures cited by the above-quoted Toronto operator notwithstanding, you would use your influence to rectify this unacceptable gouging of your employees.

As one very active in social media and blogging, I intend to spread the word about this egregiously unfair situation as widely as I can. My purpose, of course, is to encourage as many as possible to boycott Tim Hortons until equity is restored.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Should you feel so moved to express your views about the company's mistreatment of its employees, here is the link.


  1. Shortly after I read your post the other day I asked a Tim Horton's employee (in Ottawa) if their paid breaks were taken away when the min. wage was increased. Response "we have never had paid breaks" :)

    1. And that, Sassy, is pause for reflection, isn't it, given the billions that the company as a whole makes each year?

  2. I would like permission to hand out your blog to people I know. I already boycott Tim Hortons and have been doing so for over a year now. I knew about the unpaid breaks. Also, I have not contacted the company as the email seems to be incorrect.

    1. Please feel free to distribute it as you see fit, Anon. I will check into the email address and correct it if I can.

    2. Maybe people need to understand that the company and the owners make their $ differently. Don't get mad at a business owner for trying to protect their business by making a decision to mitigate the cost increase. Possibly question why the company and their shareholders wont take a hit and make a little less as a corporation to keep all their hardworking operators from absorbing all the cost. Increase the

  3. Your point is well-taken, Anon. As an investor in a company, I would be happy to take a little less profit if it meant the employees were treated more equitably. There are those who say that capitalism's only responsibility is to make money for owners, but that outlook seems absolutist, suggesting the need for a revamping of the capitalist model.