Peterborough Chamber of Commerce makes Written submission to Committee Hearings on Bill 148
PETERBOROUGH, July 24, 2017: The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has sent in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on Bill 148.
Since the announcement of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, many of our Chamber members have expressed concerns about the pace at which this legislation is being implemented and the impact on the economic growth of Peterborough and the province.
“Under the proposed Bill 148, this group of constituents is facing a dramatic increase in staffing costs over the next 18 months,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “These costs are not alone related to the proposed minimum wage increase and have caused businesses to consider the impact and how they will stay afloat.”
We took the concerns of our local employers and have submitted them to the provincial government along with a list of recommendations that our Peterborough business community put forward.
“The recommendations stem from conversations and a roundtable the Peterborough Chamber held with 24 businesses from all sectors of the Peterborough economy,” adds Harrison. “They focus on the need for more time to adapt, as well as, providing sector-specific relief, and considering other ways to achieve the desired outcome.”
We thank our member businesses for providing their comments and adding their voice to this conversation. As the cover letter to the report states, “employers and employees have to band together to make the economy work.”
Read the Report: The Impact of Bill 148
The hearings on Bill 148 Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act started this week. Monday saw the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in Thunder Bay. Today, the committee will be in Kingston. Several Peterborough groups will be presenting, along with our Chamber counterparts at the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this week we supported a letter to the Premier from the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, which includes the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and 12 other business groups and associations. Our Peterborough Chamber message to the Committee echoes that of the letter and the concern of our members, 93% of whom are small business. It’s simply that the changes contained in the proposed legislation will be difficult to absorb and adjust to in such a short time frame.
“Recently, a roundtable with 24 businesses from all sectors of the Peterborough economy expressed that the changes were too much, too fast,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses need time to adapt and have told us that without time, they are forecasting fewer hours, fewer new jobs, increased prices and, in some cases, more automation.”
As it stands now, Ontario’s minimum wage will increase by 32 per cent in only 18 months, with the bulk of that increase happening in the next six months. This particular element of Bill 148 means businesses will have to absorb between $30,000 and $100,000 per year depending on the number of employees.
However, the adjustment to minimum wage, which was not a part of the two year Changing Workplaces Review, is not the only concern. Other pieces of the legislation, such as the 48 hour rule, also bring challenges in industry
sectors important to the Peterborough region, such as agriculture and tourism. Broad sweeping rules do not recognize the unique aspects of these industries and the mostly small and medium-sized businesses that operate within them.
Over the past number of weeks there has been great discussion about how the $15/hour wage is impacting other communities and particularly large cities, such as Seattle, in the United States. However, in comparison to the quick timeline proposed for Ontario, many of these jurisdictions have been on five year trajectories and even then there is great debate about whether or not the desired outcomes have truly been achieved. For example, the State of California is taking five years to increase their minimum wage by 50 per cent to $15/hour with employers of less than 25 employees. Seattle has allowed for a 4-year implementation for a 36 per cent wage increase. However, recent evidence by the National Bureau of Economic Research has suggested that the costs of the Seattle minimum wage increases outweigh the benefits by 3:1. In that instance, low-wage workers are losing $125 per month due to less hours of work scheduled.
“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.
Throughout the past two years of the Changing Workplaces Review the Chamber Network called for a balanced approach to change. Achieving that balance includes slowing down the time frame for implementation, and understanding the economic impact of the proposed changes to businesses across sectors, and by size and
The Keep Ontario Working Coalition has commissioned an independent economic analysis of the impact of these proposed changes on the economy. The results are expected in August. Sure, we can make some preliminary recommendations around mitigation strategies, but without taking the time to understand all the potential ripple effects of Bill 148 and its quick implementation those strategies may not be as effective as hoped. Being able to look at both sides of the equation is prudent to ensure Ontario’s continued competitiveness.
Recent letter to Premier Wynne from the Keep Ontario Working Coalition
News Release: Too much, Too Fast on Labour Relations and Employment Standards Changes
Labour Relations and Employment Standards Changes Too Much, Too Fast
The Keep Ontario Working coalition calls for Ontario Government to give employers more time to adjust to sweeping reforms
PETERBOROUGH, July 10, 2017: The Keep Ontario Working group, a coalition of Ontario’s leading industry and sector associations, has 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.
As part of the Ontario Chamber Network the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the letter. “Recently, a roundtable with 24 businesses from all sectors of the Peterborough economy expressed the same message - that the changes were too much, too fast,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses need to time to adapt and have told us that without time they are forecasting fewer hours, fewer new jobs, increased prices and, in some cases, more automation.”
In their letter, the Keep Ontario Working group calls on the government to consider the timing of implementation. As it stands now, Ontario’s minimum wage will increase by 32 per cent in only 18 months.
“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
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.
Policy Analyst/Communications Specialist
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Facing a 30 percent plus increase in the minimum wage over the next 18 months has many local businesses wondering how they are going to fulfill this potential legislative demand. We put 24 small business owners and managers in a room with the Minister Responsible for Small Business, and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal for two and a half hours, and the overwhelming feedback was that the proposed changes were “too much; too fast”. From restaurants to retailers, manufacturers to Not for Profits, all were talking about fewer hours for employees, fewer new hires, job cuts, automation and increased prices. Anyone who wishes to criticize the small business owner for this reaction needs to spend some time with them, finding out just what it takes to meet payroll these days.
Meanwhile, earlier this year the provincial government announced three pilot projects (Lindsay, Hamilton, and Thunder Bay) designed to test the concept of a Basic Income Guarantee. Under the program single recipients would receive up to $16,989 from the government, less 50% of any income earned. Calculations show that the income one would have to earn before they were no longer eligible for a portion of the basic income amount would be $33,978.
If minimum wage increases go through and the employee works a 40 hour week, their yearly earnings before taxes would be $31,200.
Over the next three years, the Basic Income Pilots will also measure outcomes around:
Outcomes from this study have the potential to provide very good information on which to base a decision on how to best serve vulnerable workers and those on low incomes.
And yet, the Government is not willing to wait. Instead they are pushing through $15 Minimum Wage legislation on such a short timeline that even employees are worried, recognizing that in order to make $15/hour they need to have a job…
There’s no doubt all eyes are on Seattle right now as that city moves forward toward a $15 minimum wage. Many aspects of the Seattle policy have been studied, but a recent study from the University of Washington showing the latest increase to $13 resulted in a decrease of income paid to low-wage employees of $120 million or a loss $125/month for each worker. This suggests that the concerns of the typical small business owner and their employees are valid.
Ontario’s minimum wage is currently tied to the Consumer Price Index and has been increasing yearly since 2014. The Ontario government had the forethought to establish Basic Income Guarantee Pilots to assess the impact of such a program on low income workers. The impact of free tuition for students from low income households has not been fully assessed. These are good policies and pilots that could reach into the core of the issue of income security and make a difference.
Business can be a willing partner, but forcing a 30 percent plus increase through wages onto small and medium sized businesses at a time of high hydro rates, increasing WSIB and CPP premiums, and more inspectors to police it all, challenges the perception that Ontario is open for business.
Read more on the issue:
Enough talk about the fat cat business owner
The unintended consequences of a $15 minimum wage