Ontario's decision to increase minimum wage will have widespread effects — and the University Students' Council is getting ready.

In response to the Ontario government's minimum wage spike, the USC is currently budget planning to determine what needs to be adjusted.

The general minimum wage already increased from $11.40 to $11.60 per hour this past October. Legislation will raise the minimum wage to $14 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and again to $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019. 

“We’ve already hired students for the year, so we’re going to try and not lose any,” said Tobi Solebo, USC president. 

The USC employs over 300 hourly workers, which includes 20 Purple Store employees, 51 part-time events crew members and 225 part-time students at The Spoke and the Wave. According to Solebo, these are the areas that the USC will be examining for the 2018–19 budget.

Solebo acknowledged The Spoke as the most popular place for students to grab food and drinks on campus throughout the day. While the USC will aim to maintain The Spoke’s operating hours, Solebo said the Wave’s hours may have to be adjusted in order to cut down on operating costs.

“Our goal is to maintain service quality and maintain our hours,” said Solebo. “There’s a certain amount of reliability that students get from knowing that from this time to this time, The Spoke will be open.”

Similar to other business operations throughout the province, Solebo said the largest change might be reflected in new menu pricing. However, Solebo is hoping that The Spoke and the Wave will remain among the cheapest food options on campus for students.

Fourth-year science student, Tyler Boulanger, said he frequents The Spoke about once a week and the Wave about once a month. He thinks that it would make sense that items will get more expensive with the minimum wage increase.

“I feel like it’s pretty reasonably priced right now,” said Boulanger about The Spoke and the Wave menus. “[If prices increase], I would still be down, but obviously, they have to be reasonable.”

Currently, the USC is working on its 2018–19 budget with the minimum wage increase in mind.

“We knew this was coming a little while ago,” said Solebo. “We have a plan in place to ensure that the USC will be in a strong position at the end of April.”

Solebo further emphasized increasing the student fee will be the absolute last resort in reflecting the minimum wage increase. Instead, the USC will focus on introducing operational efficiencies to save money.

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