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Ottawa looking into Tim Hortons parent company

Last Updated Apr 13, 2018 at 12:55 pm EDT

A Tim Hortons coffee shop is shown in Toronto on June 29, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

The federal government is looking into Restaurant Brands International, the Brazilian owned parent company of Tim Hortons.

The Globe & Mail reports and sources confirm to 680NEWS’s Richard Southern that it’s concerning allegations RBI has not lived up to the conditions set out by the federal government that allowed the company to buy the coffee chain in 2014.

Those conditions include not increasing franchisee rents for five years.

Franchise owners claim that the head office has effectively raised rents by shifting costs for their supplies to them.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, says, they are “aware of the concerns raised by the franchisees and looking into them. We are monitoring compliance with the undertakings, as we do with all investments.”

Restaurant Brands International (RBI) claimed that it has not heard of any federal investigation.

Minister Bains office says an official government investigation is impossible in this case and what’s currently being done if the closest the ministry will come to any investigation.

His office said they are “looking into the matter” and “analyzing the takeover documents” looking for wrongdoing. It’s not an investigation in the legal sense of the word but they have allocated staff to analyze the matter.

A war has been brewing between Tim Hortons store owners and Restaurant Brands International for some time now.

Last year, approximately 70 per cent of franchise owners formed a group to push back against the head office which they claimed was hurting the brand.

“Rome is burning!” said David Hughes, President of the Great White North Franchisee Association in a statement to 680NEWS. “Tim Hortons employs 150,000 across the country, and with our plight in the news across the country for over a year now, we’ve had no government help at any level”

“More importantly, where is RBI’s Board of Directors (the so-called Captains of Industry)? They would be the obvious choice to mediate a solution. But they too have remained silent.”

“GWNFA has been the only group advocating for the Canadian franchisees and trying to salvage this great Canadian icon from the egregious management policies and practices that RBI has put in place.”

Tim Hortons has faced some negative publicity as of late.

Some of its Ontario franchisees clawed back employee benefits following the minimum wage hike, and three weeks ago, Restaurant Brands International announced plans for a $700-million dollar renovation of store Interiors with franchise owners expected to split the bill.

Same store sales at the chain have softened in recent quarters and shares in Restaurant Brands International are down 8.5 per cent this year.