(Queen’s Park) – A new Ontario Chamber of Commerce independent economic analysis shows the Liberal Government’s proposed labour law changes will hurt Ontario businesses and could cost many workers their jobs, says Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.
The report was released on August 14th by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and local Chambers of Commerce, including the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce. It suggests the Government’s Bill 148, which includes raising minimum wage, will put 185,000 jobs at risk and could cost Ontario businesses $23 billion within two years.
“This is a massive increase in minimum wage in a very short period of time,” Mr. Arnott said. “I have heard from many small business owners saying that it is too much, too fast for them to absorb.”
Under Bill 148, minimum wage is set to rise from the current rate of $11.40/hour to $15/hour by January 1, 2019. That represents a 31.6% increase.
One such small business owner is Jackie Fraser of Fraberts Fresh Foods in Fergus, who feels blindsided by the proposed minimum wage hike.
“We will need to increase our sales by over 12% just to break even,” Ms. Fraser wrote in her submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, which has examined the issue this summer. “Short of some miracle, we are not likely to be able to grow by 12% in seven months’ time.”
To cope with the minimum wage hike, Ms. Fraser is being forced consider downsizing, reducing hours of operations, or drastically changing their retail component to reduce the need for staff.
The Ontario PC Caucus believes the Government is rushing into these proposed labour reforms for political reasons. Further public consultations are needed, and the Government must carry out a comprehensive and honest cost-benefit analysis examining the true economic implications, the Progressive Conservatives say.
“With the provincial election scheduled for June the 7th, the Liberals are desperately trying to hang on to power,” said, Mr. Arnott. “They need to start listening to what small business people are saying, before it’s too late and they hurt the very people they claim they are trying to help.”
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Ted Arnott, MPP