Loading articles...

MPP wants tips to stay in waiters’ hands

Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue attends a news conference on Sept. 7, 2011. HANDOUT

A Toronto MPP reintroduced a private member’s bill on Wednesday afternoon which, if passed, would make sure restaurant servers get to keep all of their tips.

NDP MPP Michael Prue says right now owners and managers can “tip out” or pocket part of their employees’ tips because the money is not considered wages and thus falls outside Ontario law.

He found out about the practice when a constituent came forward and told him of a restaurant owner who was keeping more than one-third of all tips.

“Most people don’t even know that when they leave a tip, the owners of some restaurants and bars take a cut,” Prue said in a release.

“That’s a rip-off and we need to do something about it.”

Prue points out waiters and bartenders make $8.90 an hour — $1.35 less than the minimum wage — and rely on their tips to make a fair salary.

A former waitress from Cobourg, who was fired for complaining about tip outs, joined a handful of servers and restaurant owners at Queen’s Park to support Prue.

“You can imagine how a server must feel at the end of their shift, when they are faced with two choices: hand over their gratuities to management or lose their job, and there’s no legislation to protect them,” Amanda Barchard said.

Prue first introduced Bill 107 in 2009, but it died on the floor when an election was called. It again gained support from all parties in the legislature, including former premier Dalton McGuinty, when it was introduced a second time in 2012, but it was again shelved when the Liberals prorogued the House last October.

“Now we have an opportunity to do the right thing and finally give these workers the protection they deserve,” he said.

Prue told CityNews.ca he thinks the ultimate goal should be to pay servers a decent wage in the first place, as is the case in Europe, but that that would take a change in mindset.

The bill, which also covers taxis and hotels, will be debated in the legislature next month.

Laws are in place in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and New York to prevent restaurants from tipping out.