Amendments for Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act were due to be tabled in the Provincial Legislature last Wednesday. There has been an eerie quiet over the past five days with little coming out of the Government on any proposed changes.
Also, last week at the annual AMO Conference in Ottawa, the Premier heard from many municipalities from across the Province, as to the impacts the proposed legislation is going to have on their municipalities and businesses which make up their communities. News reports indicate that while many asked for the Premier to scrap the Bill, the Government would be moving forward on the legislation but are reviewing how they can ensure that Municipalities are not affected.
This is great in theory but we all know that theory and reality can have quite a distance between them. If the Government decides to offset any increased costs to the Municipalities, there are a couple of questions that arise. First and foremost, will be the question on how they are going to pay for the offsets to the Municipalities and secondly, what about the businesses that are going to be the funders of the increases?
Let me be very clear that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce are fundamentally, not opposed to the increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Additionally, we understand that this increase will help individuals and families to afford the ever-increasing costs to live in this Province. We are opposed to the speed at which the changes are being introduced. Businesses will not have time to react without the “Unintended Consequences” that will follow.
The Keep Ontario Working coalition commissioned an independent economic impact study to look at the reality of what the proposed changes will have on businesses and the economy. The study was undertaken by the coalition as the Government, despite repeated requests, would not conduct its own economic impact study.
The study, which was released on August 14, 2017 does not paint a rosy picture of what this legislation and its unintended consequences, will have on this Province. The full report is available through our website at www.nbdcc.ca. We encourage people to review this report and come to their own conclusions on the short and long-term effects that the legislation will have, if passed in its present form.
As was mentioned earlier, the speed at which the changes are being proposed is one of the major concerns. Other Provinces and U.S. states are also increasing their minimum wages but are doing so over a longer period, allowing the business community to plan, implement and manage the change. Working with business to develop strategies rather than legislating them, will create a stronger long-term economy for all in this Province.
Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.