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.
Changes Will Hurt Job Creation, Consumer Costs and Economic GrowthThe 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 STATEMENTThe 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.”
Changes would discourage investment, eliminate jobs and diminish economic opportunities in Ontario, especially among small business ownersThe Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne warning against potential changes to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), including the introduction of a $15 minimum wage. The letter is cautioning that these reforms may have unintended consequences impacting job creation and competitiveness, as well discouraging investment in the province.
The potential reforms are coming at a time when costs for consumers and the cost of doing business is high and putting Ontario at a competitive disadvantage. Ontario has experienced slower growth in GDP and job creation than in the past, and drastic reforms to labour and employment run the risk of causing serious damage to the future prosperity of the province. “These sweeping changes could seriously impact job creation and the health of our local economy in Oakville” said Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We need to get the message out that the proposed changes would discourage investment in Ontario, thereby discouraging investment and diminishing economic opportunities in Ontario.”
On issues of non-standard and part-time work, Statistics Canada data shows that part-time work has risen 22 percent since 2003, down from the 36 percent increase in the previous 12-year period. Recent studies show that 76 percent of part-timer workers voluntarily choose part-time work to better accommodate schooling or personal life.
“We are urging Premier Wynne to complete an economic impact analysis of the proposed reforms to limit potential consequences that could seriously jeopardize our future growth,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We support reform where and when it is needed, but we caution against change for change’s sake.”
The Ontario Chamber’s letter reminds the Premier that Ontario’s employer community is doing its part to create a better jobs and working conditions in the province. Budget 2017 points out that 98% of all new jobs created since the recession have been full time, and 78% have been above- average wage for their respective industries. The letter notes that the goals of economic growth and improved employee rights are not mutually exclusive. The Ontario Chamber believes that what supports the competitiveness of Ontario’s economy can also help enhance quality of work. Increased education and enforcement may assist with compliance to Government regulations and can improve worker environments. Regulatory reform that raises costs for business, only to reduce the ability of business to invest in and grow the labour force is counterproductive.
Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s letter to Premier Wynne.
For more information on how the proposed reforms could affect Ontario’s economy, see the Ontario Chamber’s Rapid Policy Update.