Ontario wraps public hearings on minimum wage

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TORONTO – Unions and advocacy groups made one last effort Friday to sway the Ontario government on its plan for sweeping changes to the province’s labour laws, with some sounding the alarm about what they deem drastic measures and others arguing the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

The government wrapped up nearly two weeks of public consultations on proposed legislation that would, among other things, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, require equal pay for part-time workers and expand personal emergency leave.

Business groups repeated their concerns about the minimum wage increase and the pace at which it would be implemented.

The bill would boost the minimum wage, which is currently set to rise with inflation from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, up to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018, and $15 the following year.

“There is no question that the proposed changes laid out in Bill 148 will put the success and competitiveness of Ontario’s business community in jeopardy, particularly our small business community,” said Ashley Challinor, director of policy for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“With a planned 32 per cent increase in the minimum wage over the next 18 months, business owners are predicting a struggle to quickly generate the revenue required to match rising labour costs. This means that a significant number of businesses fear they cannot keep their doors open.”

That sentiment was echoed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, which said that given the low profit margins in retail grocery, its members could not absorb the extra cost without cutting jobs.

Both groups pushed for a longer implementation period. The chamber of commerce also said it has commissioned an economic impact study expected to be released in August.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province would help businesses during the transition, though she wouldn’t say how.

“I’m committed to helping business and I’m committed to making sure that people are treated fairly. Those things should not be in conflict with one another in a country and in a province as rich as we are,” she said.

“We should be able to make sure that people can live, they can feed their families, that they can look after themselves, and that they can find a decent job. That’s what the legislation’s about. And we’ll work with small business.”

Labour groups, meanwhile, said they see the reforms as a step in the right direction, but stressed more needs to be done to protect vulnerable workers.

The Ontario Federation of Labour argued the province’s labour laws should extend to dependent contractors and that provisions meant to ensure workers doing similar work are paid the same should be strengthened.

“The dramatic restructuring of workplaces has shifted the distribution of risks, costs, benefits, and power between employers and employees, leaving many in precarious situations,” it said. “It is imperative that Bill 148 raise the bar for decent work for all workers.”

Some also highlighted the need for designated leave for victims of domestic or sexual assault to ensure their job and income security isn’t at risk.

Others who weighed in on the proposed plan included the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and United Way Toronto And York Region.

3 COMMENTS

  1. We all know who NOT to vote for. Wynnie has proven beyond a doubt that she has nothing upstairs and is working on ruining life for many, many Canadians. Let her call an early election, the quicker she goes the better. The following year we can skid Turdboy as well and start to repair all of the massive damage done.

  2. Do the Conservatives have any solutions to the Liberal mess? They better get their act together before Wynne calls a snap election in September. All she needs is the votes in the GTA to win.She could care less about the North. Did she avoid the Soo in the visits to cities about the ramifications of the raising of the min wage? I am sure she avoided us because we dared to oust the Liberals in this city. So much for being for ALL the people.

  3. ALERT: Reality check- One-third, that’s 1 in 3, of small and medium Ontario businesses are considering selling, moving to the U.S. or closing shop in response to provincial government plans to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CIFB) poll of its members revealed. The minimum wage is suppose to be an entry level job. People don’t buy mortgages on minimum wage jobs. But wynne does not care about that. Folks, wynne is completely clueless on what it takes to run a business. And this plan to raise the minimum wage is very simply about VOTES !!! Yes, VOTES, plain & simple !!! Seriously, if small business continues to hurt under this liberal government, people will begin to smell the coffee and see the writing on the wall. Folks, this province can not take any more pain inflicted by this wynne liberal government. We’d better wake up !!! This province and the DEBT can not take it any more. Don’t be fooled by this lady. wynne will continue to spend…your money, to fool enough of you to support her. DON”T BE !!! June 2018 is just around the corner.

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