The Art of Profiting and Paying a Living Wage

Declaring Ontario ‘open for business,’ Doug Ford announced yesterday a freeze on Ontario’s minimum wage and has scrapped many labour reforms brought in under the previous Liberal government. This is being presented as a pro-business agenda, as listening to business owners.

Funny, I do not recall Doug Ford asking my opinion or asking how MediaStyle can be a successful profitable company. As part of a company that has been selected for the Best for the World for workers list three years running, I have a thing or two to say on this.

I am the CFO/COO of MediaStyle, an Impact Communications firm in Ottawa. It is my job to worry about our bottom line and help keep us open for business.  In 2015, we became one of Ottawa’s first BCorps because we believe it is important that we use our business as a source of good. This involved being evaluated in key areas including how you treat your workers, pay, benefits, time off and volunteer work. Everything involving your team is evaluated.

I am proud to say that MediaStyle has been chosen as one of the Best for the World for Workers every year since. For context, MediaStyle is a small company with a team of 10 or less and payroll represents over 55% of our annual sales, but we still make profit every year. In 2015, we were also one of Ottawa’s fastest growing companies. All this to say that I take my responsibility to my shareholders and my team very seriously, and focus on making sound business decisions to keep us fiscally sound.

How is it that we can run a profitable company and be the best our workers at the same time? Doug Ford and the business lobby would have you think it is impossible, it is not. We recognize that for MediaStyle to be successful we need a team that is successful, a team that feels they are compensated fairly. We understand how stressful it is to achieve work life balance.

I am not saying we are perfect, no one is, but we try to pay our team a competitive wage. We give them time off for working over their regular hours and paid overtime. We have both paid vacation and paid personal time, well above what Bill 148 was giving employees, in addition to a competitive health and benefit package.

As business owners, we do not want our team to worry about making a choice between taking a sick day and being able to pay rent at the end of the month. Our team know they can take time off to care for a sick family member, spouse or child and still get their full paycheck. If they need more time we will make sure they get it, and that they can still  pay their bills. While I can not imagine the struggle of surviving on $14 an hour and raising a family, I know many people have to. Perhaps Doug Ford and these business lobbyists should try to live on $14 an hour or less than $30,000 a year and raise a family? This may give them a different perspective on what constitutes hardship.

Doug Ford did a disservice to workers trying to make rent each month, feed and clothe their children, and make a living, by repealing Bill 148. Any business owner who says they can not afford to do better for workers needs to take a hard look at their standard of living. We can and must do better for Ontario workers, Ontario businesses depend on them, and they are depending on us to speak up!

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