The year was 2018, and as Macleans tells us, Ontario decided to hike its minimum wage from $11.40 to first $14 and then $15. However, Tim Hortons franchisees Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri-Lynn Horton-Joyce had a serious problem with the situation. So serious, in fact, that they sent letters to the location’s employees, informing them that they need to sign an agreement to slash some of their benefits and waive their paid breaks in order for the owners to financially recuperate from the horrors of having to pay their employees more.
This probably wouldn’t have gone over well in any case. However, the fact that Joyce and Horton-Joyce happen to be children of the company’s super-rich co-founders took things to the next level. After an explosion of online outrage, even Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, took some time to roast the franchisees. “It is the act of a bully,” Wynne stated. “If Mr. Joyce wants to pick a fight, I urge him to pick it with me and not those working the pick-up window and service counter of his stores.” Unfortunately, even a high-powered politician’s “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” couldn’t quite untangle the situation. The underlying problem turned out to be that Tim Hortons’ corporate office refused to help its franchisees absorb the increased employee costs with price hikes or lower supply costs, which left some franchisees scrambling to cut costs.