Labour Relations and Employment Standards Changes Too Much, Too Fast
The Bay of Quinte Chambers of Commerce Survey Results Show 85% of Businesses will Feel the Impact of Sweeping Reforms
Quinte West, July 17, 2017: The Belleville, Prince Edward County and Quinte West Chambers of Commerce recently polled businesses in the region and found that only 14% stated the changes in The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act will make no difference to their business. Businesses of all sizes and all sectors are planning a variety of strategies in each workplace to adjust to the changes proposed in the legislation, the biggest one being a 32% increase in Ontario’s minimum wage in only 18 months. The results show there will be a definite impact on the local workforce with 23% saying they will lay off employees and 45% saying they will put a freeze on any new hiring. Employee benefits will also be in jeopardy as 31% of respondents said they would cut back on these benefits as a way to balance the increase in wages. The community at large will also feel the impact with 37% stating they will have to cut back on community support and charitable giving.
“Small businesses in Ontario get one hit after another. While everyone agrees the minimum wage should be raised, the rate and speed at which it is proposed to be implemented is unmanageable for most small businesses,” said Emily Cowan, Executive Director of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce. “Huge Hydro bills, employment shortages, construction, red tape, flooding and now an increase in minimum wages at the most vulnerable time of year - It could very well be the nail in the coffin for some seasonal businesses in Prince Edward County.”
“The Ontario government’s sweeping reforms will create winners and losers,” said Suzanne Andrews, General Manager at the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce. “The results from a survey of local businesses show that most businesses are going to employ a variety of tactics to try and keep their operations healthy with over 5% saying they are considering closing their business. The risk of inflation will be very real with 20% of businesses saying they will have no choice but to raise the prices on the goods and services they offer. Until the economic impact has been made clear, these proposed changes should be phased in over a longer period of time and the costs offset to keep Ontario fair to business.”
“No one who responded to the survey felt that employees don’t deserve good wages,” said Jill Raycroft, CEO of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. “Yes, some do pay entry level employees and students at minimum rates but 50% of respondents are already paying over minimum wage and the increase creates a real challenge for parity when a new hire will start at a wage not much less than a seasoned and valued employee has earned. When we place the burden for reducing poverty on the business owner, the consumer pays.”
Recently, 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.
“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 (OCC) 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 its own 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:
Suzanne Andrews, General Manager
Quinte West Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 392-7635
Emily Cowan, Executive Director
Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce
T: (613) 476-2421
Jill Raycroft, CEO
Belleville Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 962-4597
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.
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