Tag: Keep Ontario Working

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.   


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.


Ontario Deserves Evidence-Based Reform: Statement on Ontario’s Fair Workplaces Plan

Changes Will Hurt Job Creation, Consumer Costs and Economic Growth

The Keep Ontario Working coalition, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network, expressed concern that the Government of Ontario’s Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, commits to unproven sweeping reforms without ensuring protection against unintended consequences, including job losses, rising consumer costs and economic hardship.

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. As noted in the Business Prosperity Index of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Ontario Economic Report, despite projections that Ontario will lead Canada in economic growth in the coming years, diminished profitability, lower labour market participation, and sluggish market activity; along with other key factors have resulted in a risk-averse atmosphere that businesses are disinclined to grow production. Businesses are questioning if they should grow in Ontario or expand offshore. Despite that, Ontario’s private sector is still doing its part to support workers. As the Government pointed out in Budget 2017, 98 per cent of all new jobs since the recession in Ontario have been full time, and 78 per cent in above-average wage industries. This positive economic activity by Ontario’s private sector demonstrates a clear commitment to good jobs throughout our province.

OCC AND KEEP ONTARIO WORKING STATEMENT

The following is a statement by the Keep Ontario Working Coalition on the Government’s proposed workplace reforms:

We share in 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. “Government cannot regulate prosperity. To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth. “That is why we are urging the government to take time this summer to have an independent third party conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis on the proposed reforms to consider the unintended consequences to employers. In addition, as the province’s biggest employer, the government must fully understand what these changes will cost in relation to the provincial treasury as well as social services and other government agencies. “Why is evidence-based policy important? Only three years ago, the Premier’s own Minimum Wage Advisory Panel conducted extensive research and concluded: ‘In the Canadian context, researchers have generally found an adverse employment effect of raising minimum wages especially for young workers…typically those studies find that teen employment would drop by 3 to 6 per cent if the minimum wage is raised by 10 per cent.’ “While the Changing Workplaces Review cautioned that any regulatory change shouldn’t impair the competitiveness of businesses in the province, the reforms outlined in Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan thus far do not provide the balance needed to help ensure a competitive environment for Ontario. “But we have time. Now we must work cooperatively with government to identify the scale of the economic impact of these changes and help employers transition into any new policy regime. We will continue to be cooperative partners with government to find solutions that will, where possible, inhibit negative impacts on the growth of Ontario’s economy, our people, and our communities.”

Ontario’s Employers Caution Government on Changing Workplaces Review: “You Can’t Legislate Prosperity”

Keep Ontario Working Group of Leading Ontario Employers Urge Government to Proceed with Evidence-Based Policy Modernization Through the Changing Workplace Review Keep Ontario Working (KOW), a group of Ontario’s leading employers, industry and sector associations submitted its final set of recommendations to the Special Advisors of the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR). While the group acknowledges that work is changing and that labour and employment legislation should be modernized, they caution that employers and employees alike cannot risk public policy changes that would place an unintended burden on them. “The Changing Workplaces Review interim report of the Special Advisors is a large document that contains hundreds of options to the legislation that guides Ontario’s workplaces. The options laid out and that are presently being considered by the Special Advisors will impact nearly every aspect of the relationship between employers and employees, as well as the ability of Ontario businesses to create jobs and grow the economy” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.” In light of these concerns, the Keep Ontario Working group has developed several key policy options in their submission calling for evidence-based workplace modernization, with a particular focus of caution in the following areas: Education and Enforcement, Scheduling Provisions, Labour Certification Rules, Sector Exemptions, Joint/Common Employers, Sectoral Bargaining, and Minimum Standards. As part of their submission, the Keep Ontario Working group commissioned Philip Cross, Executive Fellow with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and former Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada, to analyze the issue of precarity. Cross’ analysis indicates that by several metrics, the concern around precariousness is overstated. For example, part-time employment in Ontario and Canada shrank in 2015 as compared to 25 years ago. Data also indicates that at no time in Ontario’s recent history have employees in this province enjoyed such stable employment; the average employee in Ontario has worked for the same employer for a record 106.3 months (or nearly 9 years). Currently there is insufficient data to support major reforms to labour legislation. The group has called on government to strengthen their data by developing and releasing a new regional survey. This type of data would help to identify the real gaps existing in employment legislation. The group cautions government against making sweeping amendments to legislation without sufficient statistical and economic data as it could result in unintended consequences and negatively impact the ability of Ontario’s businesses to create jobs and grow the economy. “We support the Government’s efforts to address the challenge of precarious work, but we think it’s critical that there be a robust, evidence-based, and common understanding of who Ontario’s precarious workers are and how we can best help them” stated John Sawyer. “Our goal as part of the Keep Ontario Working Group is to increase employee experience and their ability to realize more income, without introducing new regulatory burdens that will compromise the ability of Ontario employers to create jobs and grow the economy” added Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy at the Oakville Chamber. “What we do want is for the government to enhance enforcement of the existing legislation so that those employers who abuse their employees are held to their responsibilities under the existing legislation.” Read the full report: Reform That Works For more information on the Keep Ontario Working initiative, visit www.KeepOntarioWorking.ca. For employers who wish to provide their input to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, please contact Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy at faye@oakvillechamber.com or at (905) 464-0659.   About “Keep Ontario Working” Keep Ontario Working is an initiative of the leading employer and sector associations in the province, who are working together to motivate employers and employees alike to take a more active interest in the Changing Workplaces Review. Our goal is to ensure that we are improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy. Members of the initiative include: o   Ontario Chamber of Commerce o   Canadian Franchise Association o   Restaurants Canada o   Retail Council of Canada o   Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association o   Food & Beverage Ontario o   Ontario Forest Industries Association o   Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services, o   National Association of Canadian Consulting Businesses o   Other employers and employer groups.