Category: Government Relations

Federal Tax Changes Could Impact Your Business: What You Need to Know

  • Do you employ family members? The government wants to scrutinize their compensation to apply a much higher tax rate on income they consider “unreasonable”.
  • Do you invest the profits from your business? The federal government is proposing to tax that income at an effective rate of 70%.
  • Do you want to pass your business on to your children? Tough new rules make it difficult for younger kids to get the capital gains exemption. They could be double taxed.

​Finance Canada is proposing the most radical tax overhaul in 50 years.  These proposed changes will have an impact on all incorporated businesses in all sectors of the economy from retailers to restaurateurs to farmers and consultants.  We are concerned that these changes will stall business growth in Canada and punish legitimate businesses.

We are asking for your help. Send an email to your Member of Parliament using these steps:

  1. Highlight and copy the sample letter below.
  2. Send a letter to MP Pam Damoff or Send a letter to John Oliver 
  3. Copy Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy faye@oakvillechamber.com 
  4. Paste the letter below into the body of the email.
  5. Be sure to personalize the letter (everything in italics).
  6. Click “Send”

We urge the government to put these changes on hold to avoid hurting thousands of small businesses across the country and to have a broader, more thoughtful discussion regarding the measures needed to stop those who use their businesses to avoid paying taxes.

Sample Letter to MP

Subject Line: Tax Changes will Hurt Small Businesses

Dear MP Name

Over the summer, the federal Finance Department has made it clear that it intends to make the most sweeping changes to business taxes in 50 years.

From my perspective, as a business owner, I want you to know how this is going to affect my business.

(Please share your business story.)

So that you have a snapshot of my business, here’s some information:

The number of people I employ:

The type of business:

I started this business in…

My customer base is… e.g. mostly local

My supplier base is… e.g. mostly local/Canadian/etc.

Nobody supports tax evasion or loopholes. But these changes will punish legitimate businesses like mine.

I am particularly upset because this government has said it is committed to providing new opportunities for SMEs to grow. My business and many others like mine are the backbone of many communities – my community included. Our businesses employ citizens; our businesses support local initiatives – everything from soccer teams to fundraising drives for refugee families. If these changes go through, our local businesses, including mine, will no longer have the capacity for these community activities. I understand that draft legislation is in place concerning these changes.

I urge the government to put these changes on hold to avoid hurting thousands of small businesses across the country and to have a broader, thoughtful discussion regarding the measures needed to stop those who use their businesses to avoid paying taxes.

Yours truly,

Name


Business Tax Changes Are Coming – Make Your Voice Heard

Changes to Corporate Taxation: Your MPs need to hear from you! 

Last month, the Federal Government released a discussion paper on tax planning using private corporations. The proposals in this paper focus on three main areas: tax deferrals, income splitting and capital gains taxes.

The complexity and rigidity of the proposed changes will not only add to the cumulative regulatory burden facing small businesses, it will also cost small business owners thousands of dollars and discourage business investment. The government says these changes only target “the highest income earners” who have “unfair tax advantages”, but in fact this will affect hardworking, honest business owners of all income levels.


Your MPs need to hear how these proposed changes will affect businesses throughout Oakville and across Canada. Contact MP John Oliver and or MP Pam Damoff to make your voice is heard! Be sure to contact them before September 5 to make sure they’ve heard you before parliament resumes.  


“Neutralizing” Tax Deferrals 

The government wants to neutralize the “tax deferral advantage” associated with making passive investments through a private corporation. Business owners can leave income in a corporation (where it is taxed at a lower rate than personal income) so that they can reinvest that income and help their business grow. Keeping income in a corporation also allows businesses to cope with fluctuating businesses cycles. The government wants to eliminate any advantages from this practice by eliminating certain refunds and restricting eligibility for certain tax rates. These proposals stand to undermine legitimate investment practices and discourage business growth.  


Reforming Income Splitting


The Federal Government is also proposing changes to income splitting taxation. Any individual who receives split income that is determined to be unreasonable will be taxed at a higher rate. An amount would be considered unreasonable to the extent that it exceeds the average sectoral salary. This proposal neglects the unofficial functions that many individuals receiving split income perform in small businesses. For example, a spouse of a small business owner may perform several business-related tasks outside of their job title which explains their higher-than-average salary. 


Corporate Tax Reform Affects All Business Owners


Unfortunately, changes to income splitting and tax deferrals are not the only changes under consideration. The Federal Government’s sweeping proposals include additional reforms such as a restriction on the lifetime capital gains exception.

As a whole, these proposed changes would impact all Canadians who own and operate private companies, including family businesses and incorporated professionals. Ultimately, these proposals would increase the complexity of the tax rules applicable to private corporations and reverse many of the tax policies which have fostered business growth for decades. The government says they are targeting “the highest income earners” who have “unfair tax advantages”, but that is simply not true: these changes stand to affect hardworking, honest business owners of all income levels.

It is imperative your MPs hear from you directly on how these changes will affect your business before their annual Liberal caucus retreat on September 5. We encourage you to contact your MP directly with your concerns; you can reach MP John Oliver here and MP Pam Damoff here.

For more information on the proposed tax changes, contact your tax planner or contact the chamber so we can put you in touch with one of Oakville’s many professionals. 

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy at 905-845-6613 x 211 or faye@oakvillechamber.com .



Ontario Needs More Resilient Infrastructure to Confront Challenges of 21st Century

Report points to a $19 billion infrastructure gap which must be addressed through new accountabilities in Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released Building Better: Setting the 2017 Ontario Infrastructure Plan Up For Success, a report calling on the Ontario Government to implement key recommendations in its imminent Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) that will help ensure accountable planning and building resilient, adaptable infrastructure for the future.

With relatively stagnant infrastructure investment since the 1970s, the province of Ontario currently faces a significant infrastructure gap, where it would need an estimated $19 billion to improve current infrastructure alone. The gap exists because governments have not invested in upholding original infrastructure and Ontario’s harsher climate has contributed to the deterioration of the province’s infrastructure.

“Here in Oakville, and across Ontario, there is a need for significant infrastructure spending to fill the current gap –  to ensure Oakville is equipped for the future; a future that has very different infrastructure needs from the past,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “To succeed in our constantly evolving economy, we must ensure that infrastructure dollars are spent on innovative and forward-looking projects that will grow our province’s capacity to do business and grow our economy.”

The Government’s LTIP is expected to be released this fall with stakeholders greatly anticipating its release. Ontario’s Chamber Network is contributing to the development of the LTIP by recommending that: 

  • While the Government has made significant infrastructure investments, it should bring fresh accountability methods around how infrastructure dollars are spent to ensure spending and planning are transparent;
  • Governments of all levels should confront challenges of the 21st century by ensuring planning considers how we can build infrastructure that is resilient and adaptable and deals with variables such as climate change; and that,
  • The Long-Term Infrastructure Plan must be strategic, robust, and based on long-term thinking.

“We commend the Government of Ontario for their impressive allotment of infrastructure funds; this investment in our province’s infrastructure has the potential to yield tremendous benefits for all Ontarians,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “To ensure the Ontario government’s investments do not suffer the same fate as those of federal government, where significant funds have been committed but few projects identified, we hope the Government of Ontario will implement our recommendations, to better strengthen the province’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan.”

“We have heard from our members about the need to invest in crucial transporation infrastructure in Oakville. In fact, the top three infrastructure priorities identified by our members in our 2016 Advocacy Survey were local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit” added Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “This is why we are recommending the Provincial Government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding with project prioritization based on clear, transparent criteria such as resulting in economic growth, efficiency, sustainability, and community benefits.”

Research shows that investment in infrastructure, such as roads, transportation, communication, utilities and more, have resulted in lowered business costs and increased labour productivity. It is estimated that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending 16,700 jobs are supported for one year and the GDP sees a $1.14 billion increase.


Read the report.


185,000 Ontario Jobs at Risk from Bill 148: Independent Economic Impact Analysis

Bill 148 will increase the cost of consumer goods and services by $1,300 per household starting in 2018, according to new analysis by leading economics firm

Today the Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Oakville Chamber of Commerce, released the first and only independent economic impact analysis of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act. Conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), the study revealed that if the legislation is implemented as currently drafted, there will be significant, sudden and sizable uncertainty for Ontario jobs, economy and communities.

The study concludes that these vast, unprecedented reforms will put about 185,000 jobs at risk in the first two years, greatly impacting Ontario’s most vulnerable workers.

“The changes presented in Bill 148 will have dramatic unintended consequences that include putting close to two hundred thousand jobs at risk and seeing everyday consumer goods and services increase by thousands of dollars for each jobs at risk and seeing everyday consumer goods and services increase by thousands of dollars for each and every family in Ontario,” said Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and spokesperson for the Keep Ontario Working Coalition. “We’ve run the numbers and it’s clear that this is too much, too soon. If the Ontario government chooses to proceed with these sweeping reforms too quickly, all of us will be affected, and the most vulnerable in our society chief among them.”

“Since the announcement of Bill 148, we have heard an overwhelming number of concerns raised by Oakville Chamber members over the size, and in particular, the timing of these proposed changes. They expressed their concerns over the unintended consequences of job losses due to rising costs, the inability to remain competitive, increased costs to consumers and the unfortunate reality of shutting down their business” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Working with the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, our goal is to address elements of the legislation where we think there is still room for negotiation, while bringing forth the evidence from this economic analysis to show the impact this will have on business and consumers.”

CANCEA was commissioned by the KOW coalition to measure the potential impacts of six key areas of change in Bill 148, including changes to minimum wages, “equal pay” provisions, vacation, scheduling, personal emergency leave (PEL) and unionization.

Data from the economic impact analysis shows:

  • $23 billion hit to business over the next two years alone
  • 185,000 Ontario jobs will be at immediate risk over the next two years
    • 30,000 of the jobs at risk are youth under 25
    • 96,000 employees at risk are expected to be women
  • 50 per cent increase to inflation for this year and the foreseeable future. The cost of everyday consumer goods and services will go up by $1,300 per household on average each and every year
  • The Ontario government would need to borrow $440 million more to cover the increases in new costs from this legislation. If the government were to provide offsets to businesses, as they have indicated, the province’s treasury will take a bigger hit
  • Municipalities will be forced to increase employee wages by $500 million without additional offsetting revenues

“Simple accounting reveals that the Act creates a $23 billion challenge for Ontario businesses over two years. Annualized, this is 21 per cent of what Ontario businesses invest in capital,” Paul Smetanin, President, CANCEA. “Given the significant, sudden and sizable changes it would be remiss to expect that unintended consequences would not follow.”

In the coming weeks and months, the KOW coalition will release additional components to the economic impact analysis.

“Given the scale of impact and pace of change, it will be impossible for the provincial government to make businesses, even small businesses, whole through offsets,” added Baldauf. “With amendments to the first reading of Bill 148 due this Wednesday, the legislation will need to see serious change including an adjusted timeline for implementation.”

Since Bill 149 was introduced in June, the KOW coalition has called on the government to conduct an economic impact analysis to fully understand how the legislation will change Ontario’s economy. With the government unwilling to do so, the report released today represents the first and only independent economic analysis of this legislation.

Read the analysis.

For more details on the economic analysis, click visit keepontarioworking.ca

 


The Town of Oakville: Sign By-law Review

The Town of Oakville is reviewing the Sign By-Law. We have heard from our members about the need to update this by-law, and now you can have your say. Complete the survey before September 5, 2017. It is anonymous and will take less than 10 minutes. Complete the survey now. 

The regulations outlined in the Town’s current Sign By-law 2006-005 are in place to:
  • Guide the types of advertising signs that are allowed on public property and on the property of business locations;
  • Support the Town’s objectives to manage visual clutter, ensure the health and safety of the public, and preserve Oakville’s unique character, streetscape compatibility and priority intended for on-site first-party signs throughout the town; and
  • Provide a balance between the Town’s objectives and the advertising interests of businesses.
Why are they reviewing the Sign By-law?
Sign By-Law 2006-005 has been in effect for ten years with multiple amendments that have affected the regulation of various sign types including but not limited to mobile signs, fascia signs and advertising signs. A review is needed to ensure the Town’s regulations address the needs of local businesses, while reflecting the Town’s objectives and unique character.

The four guiding principles of the review are:
  1. Health and safety – the design, location, maintenance, and operation of signs should not pose a safety hazard for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
  2. Maintaining the community character – signs should be compatible with their surroundings, reflect the Town’s unique character, overall planning and design objectives and contribute positively to a livable environment
  3. Economic development – signs should contribute to the economic well-being of businesses and communities
  4. Respecting Charter rights – balancing of the Town’s objectives with the interests of the business community by ensuring that rights of commercial expression are minimally impaired for the purposes of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

10,000 Years Stuck in Traffic: Infrastructure gaps block productivity, new Chamber report finds

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, released a report Stuck in Traffic for 10,000 Years: Canadian Problems that Infrastructure Investment Can Solve. The report examines the effects of traffic congestion in major cities, ranging from lowered employee productivity to delays in moving goods and services.

Lack of proper transportation infrastructure is a major barrier to Canada’s access to market and to its competitiveness, leading to lost opportunities and wasted time for both Canadian companies and residents, says the report.

“As Canadians head out on vacation this summer, they will be spending longer periods in their cars, stuck in traffic because of inadequate road infrastructure, including poorly-maintained roadways, interchanges and bridges. Unfortunately, it won’t stop after their vacations, either. Congested transportation systems – and the loss of time and productivity that comes with them – have become a reality for tens of thousands of businesses and their employees,” said Perrin Beatty, CEO and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“The Oakville Chamber partnered with the Canadian Chamber to release this important report” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “It supports the results from our 2016 Advocacy Survey, in which 64% of our survey respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business. The survey also found that our members’ top 3 infrastructure priorities were all transportation related being local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit.”

The report outlines several other infrastructure challenges that government must target to keep Canada competitive such as:

  • Facilitating trade along the Asia-Pacific Gateway and corridor
  • Improving digital access and infrastructure
  • Maximizing potential in Canada’s North
  • Enhancing the Ontario-Quebec trade corridor
  • Getting Canadian oil and gas to markets
  • Green electrification and transmission  

“Inconsistent public investment in our transportation systems is a hindrance to small and large businesses alike with real environmental and economic costs. Canadians in the country’s largest cities are collectively losing over 10,000 years sitting in their cars every year, time that could be much better spent,” Perrin Beatty said. “As MPs tour Canada this summer making infrastructure announcements, we need to ask, ‘are these investments being spent in the right places?’” he concluded.

This report supports the Oakville Chamber’s resolution that was passed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to link investment in core infrastructure to productivity performance and enhancement. The Oakville of Commerce will be bringing this policy resolution forward to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at their Annual General Meeting in September.

“Infrastructure funds need to be allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy” stated John Sawyer.

Read the report.

Watch the video and read the infographic.


Labour Relations and Employment Standards Changes: Too Much, Too Fast

The Keep Ontario Working coalition calls for Ontario Government to give employers more time to adjust to sweeping reforms

 Today, the Keep Ontario Working group, a coalition of Ontario’s leading industry and sector associations, sent an open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne which urges the Government of Ontario to slow down the implementation of Bill 148. The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will bring about major changes in less than six months, and Ontario’s employer community is concerned that the pace of change will seriously injure our economic growth. The Keep Ontario Working coalition is calling on the provincial government to give businesses more time to better prepare.                               

In their letter, the Keep Ontario Working group calls on the government to consider the timing of implementation. As it stands now, Ontario’s minimum wage will increase by 32 per cent in only 18 months.

 “To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth,” said Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Spokesperson for the Keep Ontario Working Coalition. “To plan effectively and protect jobs, employers need predictability and time to adjust to these changes. There is no way to absorb and adjust to a 32 per cent hit in less than 18 months.”

The Keep Ontario Working coalition has commissioned an independent economic analysis to better understand the economic impact of these changes. The results of the coalition’s economic analysis will be shared this coming August.
                                        

Read the open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne:                                             


Dear Premier Wynne:                                  

On behalf of Ontario’s employer community, the Keep Ontario Working coalition is writing to you today with a call for fairness and restraint as the Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs begins province-wide consultations. As we have said since the introduction of Bill 148, the impacts from this legislation will create tremendous uncertainty for Ontario businesses. Realistic legislative timelines can only be proposed following a full economic impact analysis.

Economic Impact Analysis                         

Ontario’s small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of communities, creating local jobs and increasing economic growth around the province. In recent months we have received emotional stories from employers who believe that the impacts from Bill 148 will be profoundly negative and cause significant job loss and financial burden. Many of these businesses have expressed concern that the planned implementation of such drastic labour reforms does not give them the appropriate time to adjust.                         

Due to the Government of Ontario’s unwillingness to appropriately test the economic impacts of your legislation, the Keep Ontario Working coalition has commissioned our own thorough and comprehensive assessment to fully evaluate the damage these changes will generate. This independent analysis will be completed in August and we will share it with you and all of Ontario’s workers and employers at that time.                                            

Pace of Change                                

Many Ontario employers, especially small businesses, are now considering closing their business because they do not have the capacity to successfully manage such reforms. In the case of the minimum wage, for example, the business community was wholly aligned with your government’s previous approach, which allowed for increases to the minimum wage that were predictable and protected against arbitrary political decision-making. We object to this new approach, which will provide an arbitrary increase. If your government is intent on this public policy change, we ask that you proceed in a way that allows businesses to better prepare.                     

Since 2010, the minimum wage in Ontario has increased by 12 per cent. Under your proposed changes, employers would be required to increase the minimum wage by a further 23 per cent in six months, followed by another 11 per cent a year later. This represents a total increase of 32 per cent over just 18 months.

When looking at other jurisdictions who have introduced similar wage increases, the timelines for full implementation are significantly longer than ours. For example, the State of California is taking five years to increase their minimum wage by 50 per cent to $15/hour with employers of less than 25 employees. Seattle has allowed for a 4-year implementation for a 36 per cent wage increase. However, even there, recent evidence by the National Bureau of Economic Research has suggested that the costs of the Seattle minimum wage increases outweigh the benefits by 3:1. In that instance, low-wage workers are losing $125 per month due to less hours of work scheduled.                                   

We know that over the planning period, especially with an increase to minimum wage, the cost of goods will rise, as will utility and occupancy costs (such as leases and ownership), as well as municipal taxes.                         

To plan effectively and protect jobs, employers need predictability and time to adjust the cost of other inputs where we can. There is no way to absorb and adjust to a 32 per cent hit in less than 18 months, the bulk of which is an even more unmanageable 23 per cent increase a mere seven months out.

Our concern surrounding the pace of change is not isolated to the minimum wage in Ontario, but encompasses all aspects of the legislation. We know that changes to other areas – such as equal pay for temporary and part time workers and scheduling – will carry significant new costs for employers, costs that must be contended with in order to avoid maximum job losses.                                                                        

We urge you to slow the pace of the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act. We are extremely concerned that the proposed legislation will have negative impacts on the growth of our province’s economy, our people, and our communities. This does not demonstrate fairness.                             

To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth. Ontario’s workers and employers deserve to truly understand the impact of your decisions. That is why we urge you not to rush these reforms, and to consider the economic impacts that will be revealed as a result of our comprehensive economic impact analysis in August.                           

We are committed to working collectively with your government to ensure that workers in this province can continue to prosper. For that to occur, we must continue to work together and ensure we are doing all we can to protect against job losses, increased costs to consumer goods, and economic hardship.                                           

Sincerely:

The Keep Ontario Working coalition:                                            

Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS)

Canadian Franchise Association (CFA)

Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC)

Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO)                                               

National Association of Canada Consulting Businesses (NACCB Canada)

Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA)

Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)

Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)

Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA)                                                      

Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA)

Restaurants Canada

Retail Council of Canada (RCC)

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

 

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW) is a broad-spectrum group of business sector representatives concerned with sound public policy to help produce jobs and grow Ontario. For more information on the Keep Ontario Working coalition please visit www.keepontarioworking.ca.   


Half of Ontarians fear their skills will soon be obsolete: Oakville Chamber of Commerce

New Ontario Chamber of Commerce report urges action into alignment of skills, education and career opportunities

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released a comprehensive report, Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario, which identifies ten recommendations that will better align the skills acquired by Ontarians with those required by employers. The report, which was developed in partnership with leading officials in the private and educational sectors, as well as with representatives from across Ontario, includes exclusive, new research of both Ontario Chamber Network members as well as the general population on sentiment toward skills development.

Of the six in ten businesses who attempted to recruit staff in 2016, 82 per cent experienced a challenge in hiring someone with the proper qualifications. “Ontario employers are finding it more and more challenging to recruit properly qualified talent. If improvements are not made, we will find ourselves in a situation where there are ‘people without jobs and jobs without people” said Richard Koroscil, interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Our latest report identifies opportunities to improve alignment of skills, education, career opportunities.”

It is not just employers who are concerned with the growing skills mismatch. Of the general population, half of Ontarians are concerned their skills and expertise will no longer be useful or will become less valuable in the next decade. Over the last decade, the skills mismatch has been a major concern for the future growth of Ontario’s economy. The report states that as Ontarians move into the knowledge-based economy, with rapidly changing technological advancement, it is essential to leverage our greatest asset, human capital.

The Ontario Chamber’s report outlines a strategy that unites government and industry to work collaboratively to ensure that all regions across Ontario have access to the skilled workforce required to compete in the global economy. In working together on the recommendations presented in this report, Government and industry can:
  • Improve the transition from school to the workplace (through the expansion of experiential learning opportunities).
  • Improve the labour market outcomes (achieved through Employment Ontario programs).
  • Develop a modernized apprenticeship system (reflective of the current business climate and focused on the integration of young people into the trades).
“We hear from employers in Oakville who are experiencing challenges to find qualified employees all the time,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “If we align government, employers and educators to find solutions to the skills mismatch, we can strengthen our economy and ensure there are meaningful career opportunities here in Oakville.”

Ontario’s Chamber Network has been active on the skills issue since 2012. This report is part of larger advocacy work to ensure all regions across Ontario have access to the skilled workforce that they require to compete in the global knowledge economy.


Minimum Wage Increase & Proposed Labour Reform: Advocacy and Policy Update

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce shares the desire for broadly inclusive growth, where everyone has the opportunity to obtain a living wage. However, in order to achieve this, we need to ensure that we are not risking job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship as a result of over-regulation.

Thank you to all of our members who have shared their comments regarding the proposed new labour reforms including the minimum wage increase to $15.00 in the next 18 months. We have heard you and we will continue to focus our advocacy efforts on your behalf.

In the past few weeks, the Oakville Chamber has met with the Minister of Labour, our local MPP Kevin Flynn, to share our members’ thoughts on the unintended consequences of the proposed changes. Namely, job losses due to rising costs, the inability to remain competitive, the possibility of shutting down local employers and increased costs to consumers. We are working with our local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and combining our efforts to communicate our concerns related to the reforms and in particular, the pace at which these changes are scheduled to occur.

To that end, the Oakville Chamber is working with the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) group, a coalition of Ontario’s leading industry and sector associations as well as major employers. KOW brings together divergent voices to strengthen our collective advocacy. Our goal will be to address elements of the legislation where we think there is still room for negotiation, while bringing evidence to the table to support the notion of a broader package of offsets to help the business community transition into these new changes. The KOW website has been updated with new content and calls to action. You can visit it at www.KeepOntarioWorking.ca

We encourage you to submit a letter to our local MPP’s through the Coalition’s website (to submit a letter, click here). Please take the time to share your stories with Minister Kevin Flynn and continue to send us your emails. Your voice matters.


The Unintended Consequences of a $15 minimum Wage

The provincial government has introduced legislation that will increase the current minimum wage by over 30% from $11.40 to $15.00 per hour over the next 18 months.

Small business owners are expressing concern about the size and, in particular, the timing of the changes. Chamber members share the Government’s desire for broadly inclusive growth. However, in order to achieve this, we need to ensure that we are not risking job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship as a result of over-regulation. The Ontario Government’s announcement of the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan which proposes numerous changes to current labour and employment standards legislation will go to committee over the summer months. 

The recommendations include:
  • Raising Ontario’s general minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, and then to $15 on January 1, 2019, followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation
  • Mandating equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees; and equal pay for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the agencies’ client companies
  • Expanding personal emergency leave to include an across-the-board minimum of at least two paid days per year for all workers
  • Ensuring at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with a company
  • Updating employee scheduling rules, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time.
The cost of all of these benefits will be borne by small business owners.  We believe the government has not yet fully understood the unintended consequences of these changes.   Chamber members have expressed their frustration and concern over rising costs and over regulation.

“It will impact our business cash flow and the costs will have to be passed on to the consumer.  Because taxes with source deductions are going to be higher. We are not against an increase if it is done in increments and not as a total 32% increase over a short period of time.” – Noel Lourenco, Boffo’s

Many affected employers have told us that these changes will have the opposite effect of what the Government is looking to achieve.  One small business owner told us that “Since higher costs for delivery will be passed down from the supplier to the merchant, it will result in inflation. I will be forced to pass the higher costs on to the consumer.” We have also heard from members who say the impact will be felt throughout their businesses.

“If something isn’t done this dramatic and unrealistic increase may force us to close our doors after being a Kerr Street merchant for the last 18 years.” – Dean MacLean, The Mermaid and The Oyster

Higher costs for employers will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers.  If the businesses cannot transfer these new costs to the consumer, employers will be looking to reduce overhead by cutting staff hours and possibly cutting the number of staff.  This will reduce the job opportunities available to youth and other low-skilled individuals who need employment.

While we understand the commendable intentions of these proposals, it is clear that the government can’t legislate prosperity.  Instead of creating more opportunity for workers, changes like these often have the opposite effect by reducing jobs and increasing the cost of living. That is why the Oakville Chamber and the Chamber network with the Keep Ontario Working Coalition  have called on the government to conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis.

As the provincial government moves this legislation through the committee process over the summer we urge them to truly understand the economic impact of these changes that have great potential to hurt job creation, consumer costs, and economic growth.  

How will this affect your business? Let us know: faye@oakvillechamber.com