Chapman's Ice Cream has decided to make its pandemic pay raise permanent.
Chapman’s Ice Cream has decided to make its pandemic pay raise permanent.

The vice president of an Ontario ice cream company said the decision to make its $2 per hour pandemic pay raise permanent was “the right thing to do.”

“You don’t want to get into a position where, as an employer and as a leader, you’re taking something away from your employees,” Ashley Chapman, the vice president of Chapman’s Ice Cream, said in an interview.

“There are so many expenses that people have been confronted with. We just want our employees to be okay throughout all this.”

The Markdale, Ont.-based company had first introduced a $2 per hour pay bump for its 750 production and distribution employees in mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic prompted government-imposed lockdowns on non-essential businesses. Last week, the company decided to make that pay raise permanent, increasing the starting wage at the manufacturing facility to $18 per hour. That wage will bump up to $18.50 per hour after new employees pass a three-month probationary period.

Chapman said another part of the company’s consideration was ensuring that employees were making a living wage. Two years ago, the company conducted a study to determine the living wage for employees living in the Markdale, Ont. area. Chapman said the previous wage offered by the ice cream maker had met the living wage range for the area, but costs – particularly related to housing – have since increased.

“The consensus was that in our area, living wage was between $18 and $18.50 per hour. That kind of helped push the decision to make it permanent,” he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, Chapman’s had to shut down its two production facilities for about two weeks in order to determine how to operate while adhering to proper safety