WINDSOR STAR COLUMN: Time for hospital’s coffee sale losses to be curtailed

Tim Horton's Mug

For the average Canadian, it might be difficult to imagine how a Tim Horton’s could lose money.

The coffee and doughnut chain is extremely successful nationwide with lineups often stretching out the door.

So, how do you take such a profitable business and make it lose money?

Easy. Let the public sector run it.

At Windsor Regional Hospital, you’ll find a Tim Horton’s at its Met Campus and Ouellette Campus. They are similar to other Tim Horton’s, but there’s a key exception: it’s run by a government-backed entity. And the results haven’t been pretty.

In 2012, Windsor Star broke the story how the hospital’s cafeteria operations, including Tim Horton’s, had lost around $265,000 that year.

That story contributed to’s decision to look into hospital cafeteria losses nationwide.

Data obtained through Freedom of Information requests shows that the Windsor hospital’s Tim Horton’s has lost money nearly every year, reaching $2 million in losses overall over the past decade as of 2021-22.

Incredibly, for most of the past decade, the hospital’s Tim Horton’s hasn’t even factored in the free cost of rent and utilities, making the losses even more stunning.

To be sure, $2 million in losses is not a lot of money compared to the hospital’s annual budget, but these dollars could have eased suffering for a fair number of patients.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the average knee replacement in Ontario costs about $11,500. If the Windsor hospital had not lost money selling coffee to the public, it could have paid for close to 200 knee replacements.

So, what could be leading to all this red ink?

Labour costs appear to be a large part of the problem. When the story broke in 2012, it was reported that servers at the Met campus Tim’s were paid about $26/hour in salary and benefits. At the time, privately-run Tim Horton’s in the province would have paid staff about half that amount.

Since that time, the hospital has refused to release more up-to-date wage information.

The hospital’s CEO, David Musyj, claims that he needs to continue to run a money-losing doughnut shop as shutting it down would break a union agreement. The hospital was able to contract out its cafeteria to the private sector in exchange for agreeing to having unionized hospital staff handle operating their two Tim Horton’s.

However, the losses have continued on for over a decade.

How long must the hospital continue to take money away from patients’ services to pay added funds for running a doughnut shop?

The second argument the hospital’s CEO made for keeping the doughnut shop open was that staff liked it and it kept them close to the hospital.

It seems hard to imagine the hospital’s nurses and doctors irresponsibly bolting for coffee and doughnuts at Tim Horton’s shops around the city while leaving patients high and dry — but there’s an easy solution to that potential problem.

The answer can actually be found in a 2020 letter to the editor by Musyj himself about his money-losing Tim Horton’s. In it, he notes that his hospital was able to earn some revenue by renting out other food service space to private businesses.

Musyj could turn his Tim Hortons franchise over to a business or private sector to run or rent the space out to some kind of other restaurant that staff and visitors perhaps like.

This way, instead of losing money through selling doughnuts and coffee, the space could provide some added revenues for the hospital.

Hopefully for patients, the hospital doesn’t double-double down on continuing to lose money through running its money-losing Tim Horton’s.

More than a decade of losses speak for themselves.

Dom Lucyk is the communications director for

This column was originally published in The Windsor Star on February 25, 2023.

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