Questions arise from ‘Ontario Open for Business Act.’ Letter to the Editor.

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Every four years, we as citizens of Canada are lucky enough to have the opportunity to vote for somebody who we feel will fight for the best interest of our community. Recently, we have had a busy election season, first with the provincial election, and most recently with the municipal election. And although these election dates have passed, does it mean we should refrain from meaningful political discourse? This is a question that Sault Ste Marie needs to ask with the Ontario PC government and their intent to repeal Bill 148.

While Bill 148 is not perfect by any means, it does provide a number of workers’ rights that will soon disappear under the Ontario Open for Business Act brought forward by Doug Ford and his PC party. In a city that is largely represented by the working class, I find it more important than ever to engage our local MPP, Ross Romano, to find out what his stance is.

Does he support the removal of workers’ rights under the repeal of Bill 148, or will he simply tread the party line and support the Ontario Open for Business Act? I think we as not only working class citizens, but also as Mr Romano’s constituents deserve to know what he supports. After all, he was elected to represent his constituents not the PC party and Doug Ford.

Furthermore, the local Chamber of Commerce has praised the Ontario Open for Business act in a recent media release. And while I do agree with some of their positions, such as the minimum wage increase being too much, too fast, I think the press release is fairly short sighted when discussing the bill and how it will impact the day-to-day lives of Sault Ste Marie citizens.

I understand it is the Chamber’s position to strengthen local business, membership base, and ultimately their revenue, but do they support the following parts of the bill they failed to mention in their media release?

  • Removal of 10 personal emergency leave days per calendar year, two of which are paid.
  • Providing only 3 sick days per calendar year, two bereavement days per calendar year, three family responsibility days, all unpaid.
  • Allowing employers to cancel shifts with little to no notice with no repercussion.
  • Reduced vacation time for employees with 5 years tenure

Studies have shown that working sedentary jobs or shift work can have negative impacts on a person’s health, both physical and mental. As a city in which a high percentage of workers are employed at sedentary jobs (such as call centres) or work shift work, these are very real concerns for the Sault’s workforce. Something both the Chamber and the provincial government need to keep in mind is that without a healthy workforce – and yes, sometimes taking time off is important for maintaining health – our economy will come to a standstill.

So where does Mr Romano stand on this? Surely if Ross Romano can take the time to send out a Thanksgiving media release, he can take the time to address his constituents at a time when his party announces its intentions to pass a bill that could have a significant impact on our community.

I encourage all working class citizens to email or call Ross Romano, asking for clarification on his position on this bill. After all if we can’t count on him for a simple clarification on such an important matter, what can we count on? We need to count on ourselves and remain active in political discourse, holding our elected officials accountable for their decisions throughout their entire term, not just on election day.

Please join me in emailing our local MPP, Ross Romano, to voice our concerns as his constituents. ross.romano@pc.ola.org

Mike McCLeary

7 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic letter, Mike; you did indeed nail it. Mr. Romano has refused to answer ANY communications I have sent to him; zero response rate. Apparently, this is typical. He is certainly not earning HIS pay; let’s put HIM on a minimum-wage salary since he is doing even less than the minimum effort at his job.

  2. Use people are so blind . You are fighting for the wrong thing in life if you work a minimum wage job you should be fighting to lower the cost of living. For every raise you get the cost-of-living goes up. Gas groceries clothing etc. So no one wins it is all passed on to the consumer. Doug Ford promised to lower taxes for lower income families that is good.I really don’t think you realize what bill 148 did to all small businesses in Ontario. Small businesses can’t forward to hire more people due to the sick days they have to pay and the overtime to cover them sick days. If you look around the city how many self check out machines are there that means there’s fewer jobs for people to do and eventually that will be all there will be in businesses in Ontario and nobody will have a job. So wake up and fight for the right things .

    • Putting the $14 minimum wage aside, you claim Bill 148 hurt businesses.

      I’m assuming that you were aware that the 10 Personal Emergency Leave days were in place long before Bill 148 existed?

      I’m also assuming you approve only allowing 3 sick days per calendar year, and also allowing employers to require medical documentation for any absence?

      Also, if you think that Bill 148 alone caused automation to arrive at the workplace, you are sadly mistaken. Companies will continue to line their pockets at the expense of their front line workers, Doug Ford and his Conservatives are just making it easier. We need workers’ rights.

      Also, here are some fun facts for you to consider when worrying about the well-being of business owners in Ontario.

      Every month since the Ontario Chamber of Commerce published its initial economic analysis prior to Bill 148 being but I’m place in August 2017, Statistics Canada figures show unemployment in this province remaining below six per cent. This July, six months after the minimum wage increase and labour reforms took effect, Ontario’s jobless rate dropped to 5.4 per cent, the lowest it has been since the year 2000.

      The Chamber of Commerce also predicted big price rises. But the province’s annual inflation rate is running at a modest 2.2 per cent. It predicted businesses would take a $23 billion hit from the reforms. The government’s own figures show business profits are up in the first six months of 2018.

      Funny that you don’t hear Doug Ford mentioning these numbers.

      You keep fighting your fight, and we’ll keep fighting ours. The difference is, we’ll come prepared for the fight, armed with real numbers, statistics, and more than just buck a beer promises.

      • First and foremost I take it you do not own a business . if you own a business in Ontario you would understand and put the hard work in like business people do . Like pay wages WSIB hydro heating cost financials and etc. and you think people line their pockets Not so sorry.

        • Susie, While I do not own a business personally, I have seen the challenges owners of small businesses face on a day-to-day basis. Having also worked in a position where I have managed cost mitigation, I also understand how business works. These challenges, however, existed long before Bill 148, and will continue to exist regardless of what labour laws are in place.

          Let’s look at the big businesses that will be profiting from the Ontario Open for Business act, though. You mentioned businesses moving to self checkouts, because of Bill 148, so let’s focus on three of the local businesses that have moved the self checkout system, shall we?

          We’ll start with Walmart. According to their 2018 Annual Report, Walmart earned a total revenue of $500.3 billion. You’re suggesting Walmart has moved to self checkouts because of Bill 148? They seem to be doing quite alright. With numbers like this, it would be far more logical to suggest they made the move to increase productivity while decreasing cost. Who feels the impact of this? The front line workers. We’ll also ignore Walmart’s impressive record of employee relations. This is not Bill 148 related at all.

          Now let’s move onto McDonald’s. According to a report on Market Watch, McDonald’s posted a net income of $5.19 billion in 2017. Admittedly smaller than Walmart, but no reason at all to hit the panic button. They also chose to move to self checkouts. With a net income of over $5 billion, do you honestly think this is due to a lack of revenue? Doubtful. Also not Bill 148 related.

          Let’s look at Rome’s, who put the self checkout system into effect long before Bill 148 came into play. Something tells me they didn’t make this move in anticipation of a $14 minimum wage. Did the money saved by using an automated checkout system go back to the workers at all, or did the gained efficiency go to the company itself? I think we all know the answer. Definitely not Bill 148 related.

          Let’s look at Canadian Tire, who chose to remove the self checkout system, and have yet to reinvest in it, even with the implementation of Bill 148.

          The fact is, small businesses are not suffering as a result of Bill 148 alone. Small businesses also suffer from these huge companies who can keep prices lower by not only monopolizing, but monopolizing their front line employees as well. This monopolization existed long before Bill 148. Do some research into how many small businesses box box retail has destroyed using the above tactics and then try to tell me that Bill 148 is responsible killing small business.

  3. Yes mr romano, what is your opinion on this matter the people like me who voted for you would like to know. I work a minimum wage job, never used the two paid sick days yet, but was glad to know it was available if needed, and i was looking forward to the $15 wage.just how do you feel about this matter, do tell?

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