Chamber’s submission to the Standing Committee on Bill 148 Workplaces Better Jobs Act

Jul 11, 2017 | News

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 – The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce presented the following to the Standing Committee regarding Bill 148.

Peter Chirico, President & CEO’s speech was as follows:

Good morning and welcome to North Bay.  My name is Peter Chirico and I am the President and CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.  I am accompanied by Patricia Carr, Vice President of Policy and Communications.  We represent almost 900 members who employ close to 10,000 employees across our district.  Thank you for the opportunity to present this morning.

Initially, we would like to state that we are not fundamentally opposed to the increase in minimum wage to 15.00 per hour.  What we are opposed to is the speed that it is being instituted and the unintended consequences of the sweeping reforms, that will affect our business community.

From the outset, we have agreed with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, that considering the reforms being proposed, the Government of Ontario should be completing a Province wide economic impact analysis of what these changes mean to our businesses.  As stated earlier, it will be the unintended consequences, that will affect our members.

What are these unintended consequences?  As we have only 5 minutes to present our case, I will provide a brief summation of what these are:

  • The Government is taking an active position to encourage unionization especially amongst temporary help agencies, building services sector, home care and community services sectors.
  • 23% increase to minimum wage in 6 months and full implementation within 18 months equalling a 32% increase.
  • Employment Standards Act reform requires an educational component for existing businesses and also a single point of contact between government and business.
  • Personal emergency leave being extended to all businesses will be detrimental to small businesses and the impact must be looked at. Presently our members are compassionate and assist when required without the Government telling them to.
  • Shift cancellation and on call payments to employees do not provide the flexibility that is required in both the manufacturing and/or health care sectors.
  • Vacation entitlement after five years – we are not opposed but economic analysis is required for future.
  • Temporary Help Agencies will be forced to match wages and companies will lose competitive advantage when cyclical business cycles require temporary workers.
  • Labour Relations Act reforms will abolish exemptions for traditional industries that have relied on these exemptions for generations.

Over the past 30 days we have surveyed our membership.  We had a 37% response rate with a resounding 73% response, indicating that the minimum wage increase will negatively affect their business. 69% of respondents indicate they will pass on the costs as quickly as they can to the consumers, 46% will reduce staff and 45% will reduce the number of P/T, seasonal or student hires to offset.

Small business is the lifeblood of the Ontario economy and although changes are required, we do believe that the Government must look at the economic impacts.  That includes inflationary pressures that will become more and more prevalent as costs are added to businesses.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other groups which make up The Keep Ontario Working coalition has commissioned an independent economic impact study that will be due out in August.  This is in response to the lack of the same study being done, as it should be, by the Government of Ontario.  We implore that the changes at least be held until this is brought forward and reviewed.

Thank you for your time and are their any questions?

CLICK HERE for the full document and survey results.