Are Canadians at tipping point on gratuity-supported wages?

Expectations of tips are rising and most people would rather workers were just paid better

Are Canadians at tipping point on gratuity-supported wages?
Steve Randall

Of all the issues surrounding the cost of living, tipping may not be top of the agenda, but it’s a real concern and Canadians have had enough.

Low-paid workers in hospitality and other service roles receiving gratuities to enhance their wages is a deeply-engrained custom in many countries, but a new poll reveals it is pushing Canadians to tipping point.

The Angus Reid Institute survey identifies ‘tip-flation’ where we are being asked to tip more (62% of respondents said so), and ‘tip-creep’ where tipping is expected more often (64%).

Back in 2016, 43% said they left a tip after a restaurant meal of less than 15%. In 2023, this share has dropped to 23% while the percentage tipping 20% or more has more than doubled to 21% (from 8% in 2016).

The survey also found that more places are asking for tips when they did not previously, often adding the charge to digital payments. More than 8 in 10 participants say too many places are asking for tips but just 13% think customer service has improved as tips have increased.

Scrap the tips?

Asked about the model of low wages supported by tips, 59% of respondents would prefer ‘service included’ prices with workers being paid higher base wages.

More than four-in-five (86%) Canadians who want to do away with tipping believe the current system allows employers to underpay their employees. Half (53%) of those who want gratuities to stay agree.