On August 23, 2017, the Ontario Liberal Government met for the 1st reading of Ontario Bill 148 Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. There has been much concern in the public eye regarding the highlight of this act which states a 33% increase to minimum wage in just under 6 months. Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield stood up and stated the sad reality that this bill could bankrupt municipalities as 75% of their funds go to paying employees at which a 33% increase would leave no additional funds for public services etc. Mayor Canfield continued to discuss the hard hit that small cities would take as legislation around on-call and temporary workers is subject to large change, including 3 hours minimum pay at regular rate of pay when not called in for an “on-call” shift. Among many large and small business owners and city officials, Canfield asked Wynne to “Trash” the bill for which she stated that she would not. However, would try to work to “ensure there are no unintended consequences of this legislation” but provided no clear evidence as to how this would happen.
The Liberal government has not yet provided the public with any information or reports regarding the completion of an economic analysis of the impact of this bill for Ontario. Therefore, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce took the lead and provided one of their own under the title Keep Ontario Working Coalition. When looking at the research provided by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Keep Ontario Working Coalition during their economic analysis there are many major concerns. For starters, we can deduce that government would need to borrow $440 Million to cover the oncoming costs of this legislation change. Not to mention the societal and structural impact it will have on our otherwise competitive and economically profitable province. While employees see a benefit in the rise of minimum wage it might not be all it’s cracked up to be as the cost of the inflation is about to rise by 50% for goods and services in the same short time frame, equaling at minimum, $1300 per household per year. What costed you $4.25 everyday for your specialty Starbucks will now cost you $6.50- The same rule applies to groceries, rent, clothing etc. In theory you might be making more per hour, but in the end you’re dishing out more to be able to live. Speaking of Starbucks- large corporations like this don’t need to stay in provinces that require them to spend more money on their staff. We can expect to see many of our store, factories and head offices that drive our economy leaving our province for cheaper more affordable places to call home. For example, Metro groceries stores released a statement early last week stating that it would cost them $50 million more annually to pay their employees the $14 minimum wage. In their interview with Global News they discussed how in order to alleviate some of this stress, they would need to find offsets of their own. Which included more self check outs, resulting in less staff on hand. Thus, securing the point from the Keep Ontario Working Coalition that states over $185,000 jobs in Ontario will be at immediate risk come January 2018.
On August 23, 2017, the Ontario Liberal Government met for the 1st reading of Ontario Bill 148 Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. There has been much concern in the public eye regarding the highlight of this act which states a 33% increase to minimum wage in just under 6 months. It may seem simple to compare Ontario’s change to other areas that have the same minimum wage such as California, British Columbia etc. However, we must look at the time frame or look to implement a time frame for this change. There has been no evidence found to support that any other country, province or city has incurred such a drastic change in such a short amount of time. Leaving no time for strategic planning or contingency funds to develop before the major shift. “In the end, Businesses will have started to increase costs, they will have started to let people go, they will have stopped hiring people that they might have hired because they’re planning now under the presumption there is no offset” says Karl Baldauf of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. An offset plan must come sooner and employers need to be made known so that the identified scenarios do not cause economic despair for the province of Ontario. Government will have another chance to make changes to the bill next month. So speak up now! Contact your local MPP just as many others have done.