The Canadian dollar, or the loonie, has dropped in value in the past year, which has made it hard for border businesses in the Northeast Kingdom to continue to accept Canadian currency at par. Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph
The value of the Canadian dollar has declined sharply in the past year, giving businesses on the border a choice to make. As of Tuesday, a Canadian dollar was worth 81 U.S. cents, according to Google Finance.
For a long time, many local businesses accommodated Canadian visitors by accepting their dollar at par. But they’re finding that’s no longer an option.
“We operate on a very small margin,” said Steve Breault, owner of Newport Natural Market and Café. “If we take it, and we lose 30 percent on the dollar, it just becomes impossible.”
Local employers say a rise in pay for those at the bottom of the ladder is sure to increase salaries for those on the higher rungs.
That will be good news for many workers, they say, but could come at the cost of increased prices for goods and services.
Vermont’s minimum wage will rise on New Year’s Day 2015 and on each January 1 until 2018. The Vermont Legislature voted to increase it from the present level of $8.73 an hour to $10.50 in four annual jumps.