Franchisees' cuts to paid breaks and benefits is "reckless," says Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons' Canadian headquarters has waded into a brewing controversy stemming from this week's minimum wage hike in Ontario, calling the elimination of paid breaks and benefits for employees at certain locations ``reckless''.

In a letter to workers at two Tim Hortons restaurants in Cobourg, Ont., Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce said that as of Jan. 1, staff would no longer be entitled to paid breaks, and would have to pay a portion of the costs for dental and health benefits to offset the $2.40 jump in the hourly minimum wage.

A statement from Tim Hortons released on Friday said the cuts ``do not reflect the values of our brand, the views of our company or the views of the overwhelming majority of our dedicated and hardworking Restaurant Owners'' and that staff ``should never be used to further an agenda or be treated as just an 'expense.'''

The company didn't elaborate on what it would do to help franchisees as they transition to paying workers more after the minimum wage hike.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday that if Joyce Jr. wants to challenge the Ontario government policy, he should come directly to her and not take it out on his workers.

The cutback in benefits and wages at the two locations, which came into effect Jan. 1, follow the rise in Ontario's minimum wage from $11.60 an hour to $14 this week.