Ontario Government’s move to make province Open for Business is the correct course of action

Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday’s Ontario government announcement of the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, was welcomed by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and by the wider provincial Chamber network. The proposed legislation includes a repeal of some of the most cumbersome and economically-challenging aspects of Bill 148. The new legislation would also see the dissolution of the Ontario College of Trades and improvements to the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio.

Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Acting President, Carlo Spadafora notes that the Chamber’s position has been clear from the beginning: Bill 148 was too much, too fast. “From the implementation of Bill 148, we became aware of the unintended consequences of this legislation and the impact on both employers and employees.”

“In consultation, our members have made clear the compounding effects of Bill 148, including the need to decrease product offerings and increase the price of products being sold, hire fewer employees, reduce services and hours of operation, cut back on employee benefits, increase their reliance on automation, and halt capital investment – all in an effort to stay afloat. This is not good for economic growth or for the workers Bill 148 was purported to aid.”

One of the reasons why Bill 148 has had such a negative impact was its hasty and unresponsive implementation. This sweeping legislation was introduced less than 10 days after the release of the Changing Workplaces Review, a two-year study of provincial labour and employment standards legislation. Despite the considerable scale of this study, the government did not take the necessary time to consider its findings, test its recommendations, or conduct in-depth stakeholder consultations on its results before proceeding with legislation. Nor, was an economic impact analysis conducted and released by the Province before the bill became law. In many cases, the government went beyond the recommendations of the Changing Workplaces Review, introducing amendments such as the most dramatic increase to the minimum wage we have seen anywhere in North America.

The imbalanced labour standards established by Bill 148 come at too high a cost to the economy and workers, as they have limited the ability of business to grow, hire, and invest.

Ontario’s Chamber network has long-maintained that the current skills mismatch across the province is also a very real problem. Jobs are going unfilled while the demand for highly-trained workers continues to increase.  Of the new jobs created in the next decade in Ontario, 40 percent are expected to be in the skilled trades, but only 26 percent of young people aged 13 to 24 are considering a career in these areas.

Since its inception in 2009, the Ontario College of Trades has faced criticism from industry, with concerns about fees, the compulsory membership structure, and the College’s regulatory functions negatively impacting small- and medium-sized enterprises.

In October 2013, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the report, Caution: Work Ahead, detailing specific recommendations on how to make the College more responsive to the overall needs of the economy.

OCC President, Rocco Rossi states that “Yesterday’s news signals the provincial government’s commitment to making Ontario’s skilled trades apprenticeship system more responsive to the needs of the economy, and to addressing a dire labour shortage. The College has become overly focused on enforcement and regulation, limiting its ability to serve the public interest by attracting and training new tradespeople. The OCC has long advocated for the College to modernize the apprenticeship application system, promote the skilled trades as a viable career option for young people, and revise the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio framework to create more opportunities within the skilled trades. As these reforms were not made, the OCC recommended to dismantle the College and return responsibility for trades regulation to the Province.”

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Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce has been serving the Sault since 1889. Two years after the first Canadian Pacific railway reached Sault Ste. Marie, a group of businessmen formed an organization dedicated to community welfare and development. During the two years leading up to the Chamber's founding railway spurred an economic boom. Business prospered, the population doubled, and on June 25, 1889 forty businessmen organized the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Trade. Today, this non-profit organization continues to serve the interests of business in a rapidly changing economy. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is funded through annual membership of its's member businesses and agencies, enabling it to advocate on behalf of business. Through the years, the Chamber has worked closely with the business community and various levels of government to find solutions to challenges faced by the community and has spearheaded numerous solutions.


  1. And yet the liberal and dipper children run the city! The results of the last election will be the nails in the coffin.

  2. Thank God we have finally put adults in charge of this Province. And thank God enough people showed up to the polls and voted for MPP Ross Romano. With an ndp mpp, this City would have been in a very poor position with little if any attention from Queen’s Park. I have a great deal of faith in Ross and I’m sure the intelligent people in the room will give him the benefit of the doubt that things will go well for us. The liberals and the ndp had 1 plan and 1 plan only… to bankrupt this province at the expense of their ever endless social programs and disastrous green energy fiasco. Stay tuned.

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