Rieley Kay, who owns Cilantro and Chive with his wife Kim, pours a drink at the restaurant and bar Friday afternoon. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Central Alberta bar has no plans to lower alcohol server salaries if gov’t cuts minimum wage

At least one central Alberta bar and restaurant will not lower its alcohol servers’ pay, even if the provincial government decides to cut their minimum wage.

The government has announced it will create a panel to explore whether reducing the minimum pay for Alberta alcohol servers could give them more working hours and boost their overall income through tips.

“We have no intention of lowering any of our employees’ wages by any stretch, no matter what the government is doing moving forward,” said Rieley Kay, who owns Cilantro and Chive, along with his wife Kim, in Lacombe.

“The rules and regulations are always changing, especially in the restaurant industry. There’s always new policies and procedures coming into place.

“As a restaurant owner, we always want to make sure we’re a place to offer a sense of pride and accomplishment to our staff, and we always want to make sure we’re leading the way in what we can offer.”

Alberta’s official Opposition released a statement this week regarding the formation of the panel.

“The UCP have clearly stacked the deck against working people with the creation of this panel,” said Christina Gray, the NDP’s critic for labour and immigration.

“We know a $15 minimum wage means more money in the pockets of Albertans who will spend it in our local economy. This is good for workers and jobs.

“We also know it’s wrong to pay a group of workers, made up of mostly women, a lower minimum wage than everyone else.”

Kay said it would be unfair to criticize another bar that might choose to lower its bartenders’ salaries.

“Every business is is different, every business is designed differently. It may help a small business startup, but it can also hinder employees moving forward too,” said Kay.

The New Democrats, under Rachel Notley, raised the hourly wage to the current $15, which is the highest in Canada, and eliminated a reduced rate for alcohol servers.

Premier Jason Kenney’s new United Conservative government cut the minimum wage for workers under 18 to $13 an hour.

The panel, which Labour Minister Jason Copping said consists of academics, industry leaders and workers, is to report back in the new year.

–With files from The Canadian Press



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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