Minimum wage hike ‘straw that broke camel’s back’ for Karters’ Korner owner

Photo: A view of the track at Karters Korner, posted to Facebook by real estate agent Mitch Gauzas.

If you’ve got $3.5 million burning a hole in your pocket, here’s a bargain.

Paul Joinette, the owner of Karters’ Korner Ltd., has decided to retire and recently put up his company’s land at 6336 Fallowfield Rd. for sale. At 71, he said the main reason was age but added there were some contributing factors — such as the recent minimum wage increase from $11.40 to $14 an hour.

“Let’s say that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Joinette said in a phone interview Friday.

“This is a seasonal business so we hire almost exclusively students,” he said. “Ninety-nine per cent of high school kids, it’s pocket money, yet we’re obliged to pay them this ridiculous increase.”

He said Karters’ Korner employed 62 people in 2017, at least 50 of whom were paid minimum wage.

The general minimum wage in Ontario is $14 an hour. The student minimum wage is $13.50 an hour and applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 or fewer hours a week at times when school is in session. If re-elected, the provincial Liberal government is promising to raise the minimum wage to $15.

Joinette also complained about what he called burdensome governmental red tape.

“It’s just becoming very difficult to satisfy all the government departments,” he said. “There’s just too many regulations.”

He did not specify particular government agencies but said he has had issues with the city and province in the past.

He identified health and safety laws as a burden, saying the Ministry of Labour has been too invasive. The Ministry of Labour reported one site visit to Karters Korner since 2013 for a proactive visit. There were no major issues reported.

The business is still open as he seeks a buyer for the land, which he said could take some time.

“I see another two, three years possibly,” he said. “If I can get through it. I feel my age creeping in.”

Karters’ Korner opened around 1980.


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24 thoughts on “Minimum wage hike ‘straw that broke camel’s back’ for Karters’ Korner owner”

    1. To say the new minimum wage is the culprit is ridiculous, the owners age is more the issue. My grandchildren work to pay their tuition & costs at University & do that on minimum wage, which badly needed an increase to cover the increase in fees, transportation
      etc.

      1. You are absolutely correct… Maybe somebody younger needs to have this business and be a little more innovative. That is hard to do when you are 71. Perhaps the owner is having a hard time admitting to this….. bottom line , he wants to retire, doesn’t feel right about that, so blames everything else….. and perhaps just needs to accept it is time.

        1. I think you hit the nail on the head, Violet. Health and Safety laws a burden? I’m glad my grandchildren didn’t work there!

          1. I agree, with above…The business itself has not adapted or updated itself over the years which has likely contributed to its failure more than anything.
            If it can sustain a $3 wage hike for a staff of what I assume is maximum of 3-5 people at a time, then there is clearly a flaw in the way the business is operating.
            It’s another business trying to use the minimum wage as a scapegoat for it’s failures.

        2. I worked there for a while and the owner had very little involvement. The actually management was a good young age

  1. This one-source story is a little less than balanced and really showing the writer’s right-wing bias. For someone who’s gone through j-school he should know better.

    1. I followed all the rules, Chris. If you’d like to sit down and talk journalism ethics I am happy to explain how it works and hear your side of things, you can email me: dbarrie@devyn.ca. And it’s not one source — we also followed up with the Ministry of Labour to find out what the deal was with his health and safety complaints.

      1. It would have been nice to hear from some of the minimum wage earners to hear how the increase of minimum wage will affect them, and if it was, in fact, “pocket money” to them.

  2. So long bad business models. If one needs needs to keep wages artificially low to survive, it’s in the wrong business. Try selling type machines or running a manual phone switch operator

  3. Has Mr. Joinette considered that the minimum wage increase will also make it possible for many young people to spend their extra earnings at his business? In addition, families on lower incomes will have more disposable income available to them and may decide to bring their kids to Karters Korners.
    Like a previous commenter, I suspect that he’s hit an age when it’s not as easy to continue in business and is looking for a convenient scapegoat. It does come across as a bit odd that he’s proposing to sell his business by declaring it non-viable. Aside from anything else, he’s just driven down the selling price. Maybe I’ll offer him $2.5M for his struggling business.

    1. Question of clarification: Is it just the land he’s selling or the business as well? There’s a considerable difference. What kind of development would the zoning allow?

    2. If someone is working ok maybe but many have been down graded to part time there making less then they were.

  4. The report seems fair. What seems to be missing in most reports on this subject is a deeper look at what it takes to run a small business. I dont think the minimum wage imposed by the Province is the whole story in any of these reports. A clean record with Labour Dept does not indicate compliance is not an issue. Most business operators are compliant. If they are staying ahead of Labour regulations, WSIB, Local codes, Environmental regulations, I guarantee they are working hard. What business owners need to do to stay up to date with all three levels of taxation, the owner funded “spot audits”, accountancy costs, legal and other professional fees, permits, accessibility and standard mandatory Govt reporting ( to name a few) are not evident to consumers. My experience is (and anecdotaly that of my business acquaintances and associates ) the cost and administration of a business over and above the direct business activity operations expenses, are making many businesses less profitable than the effort is worth. Each individual Agency may not place an onerous burden on a business but the cumulative effect can be crippling for some. It is over simplifying to discretly blame business models, wage hikes, a given Govt. agency or an owner. Risk vs reward, hard work and the satisfaction of your own success and employing people as a small business owner, are diminished by these other challenges.

  5. Everyone commenting is making it about the minimum wage hike. He admitted that the main reason was his age, but the other issues were contributing to his decision. Funny how everyone is concentrating on the minimum wage issue. Lets not read things into the article. First it was his age, then the minimum wage, then the govt restrictions. I’ve been in business for myself and know about the govt restrictions and issues.

  6. I guess most of the people who wrote negative comments about Mr Joinette, have never tried , or even thought about trying to run their own business ? 50 employees at minimum wage $14.00 ×10 hrs a day, = $7000.00 × 4 weeks a month, =$28.000. Now deduct the price of gas, tires, repairs, the big one GAS, and see what your left with! THEN, deduct insurance, and believe me it isn’t cheap, and you’re not left with a whole lot. I’ve known Paul since he opened the,place , and he ALWAYS treated his employees like family, mabye do a little fact checking , before you call someone OLD and not being with the times, who the hell do you think BROUGHT the go Karts and all the rest to this town !

    1. Yes , I agree he did an amazing Job since 1980,our children looked forward to fun days, our grandchildren now, there is no where else like it, with all the government regulations everywhere it is so hard to business anymore , the increase in min wage for students is huge , it should have been done over 3 years, so the businesses could adjust their prices accordingly, it will be a great loss to loss this business.

    2. It doesn’t matter who ran a business or not. To believe minimum wage shouldn’t keep pace with the cost of living is to believe that people should be paid less and less over time.

      Minimum wage should be indexed and automatically increased with the cost of living.

      Don’t get me wrong. It’s a shame that he’s struggling to keep the business afloat, but unless minimum wage has increased beyond the cost of living (which it hasn’t) it’s an excuse, not a reason.

    3. Apparently today someone in Kanata showed up with their son and 7 friends for a scheduled birthday party only to find it closed. If he had to close earlier than anticipated, at least a call to the people who booked to let them know. Yes he brought a business to the community and employed students….but he didn’t do it without his customers.

      p.s. numbers could easily be thrown back to show how difficult it is to survive and raise a family on minimum wage.

  7. I often hear the minimum wage increase has hurt businesses. If this is so bad, I dare the newly elected PC government to rescind it and go back to lower wages. I could safely gamble my 2c that this would never happen! If relying on cheap labour to be successful, perhaps one needs to revisit the business model.

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