One of Canada’s biggest business lobby groups was in Barrie on Tuesday weighing in on the minimum wage increase, arguing it has resulted in job losses.

Representatives from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses spoke at the Barrie Huronia Rotary Club on Monday. They say CFIB research found one in four business owners cut jobs, and more than half raised prices. They feel the government rolled out the increase too fast, in an election year, without a proper risk assessment.

“Let’s have an economic impact analysis,” says Julie Kwiecinski, the Director of Provincial Affairs for CFIB. “Let’s see what the real and full impact of this fourteen dollar wage increase is before anyone makes any future moves to a higher number,” she says.

“I think there’s a legitimate struggle with it, in respect to the increase in costs,” commented Barrie Huronia Rotary Club President Joe Beleskey.

The increased labour cost prompted Barrie dry-cleaning business “Wright Cleaners” to clean house, to stay in business.  “In one store, closure immediately,” says John Sekleski from Wright Cleaners. “It resulted in the layoff of the majority of my part-time staff and three or four full-time staff as well.”

Businesses say the problem isn't the wage hike, but the lack of time they had to prepare. The CFIB says by 2019 wages will have jumped 32 percent in 15 months, which is an increase that hasn’t been seen in 50 years.

“Does it have to go up? Probably, absolutely, everybody needs a decent wage. But maybe over the course of time,” says Michael Hesson with the Rotary Club.

The Ontario Government insists help is available to business owners but says the bottom line is the minimum wage had to go up to help workers make ends meet.

The CFIB plans to have even more data on the impact of the minimum wage in May, right before the Ontario election.