Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Business Groups Raise Concerns about Province's Planned Labour Reforms

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Business Groups Raise Concerns about Province's Planned Labour Reforms

Article excerpt

Biz groups raise concerns about labour reforms

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TORONTO - The Ontario government's plan for major labour reforms would have significant side effects that would put 185,000 jobs at risk, a coalition of business groups said Monday in releasing part of its analysis on the proposed legislation.

The economic analysis commissioned by the Keep Ontario Working Coalition found that Ontario businesses stand to take a $23-billion hit within two years of the implementation of Bill 148, largely due to a minimum wage increase.

The coalition, which includes groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Council of Canada, said the changes proposed in the bill would force employers to find creative ways to cut costs, such as hiring less and increasing automation.

"The changes presented in Bill 148 will have dramatic unintended consequences that include putting close to 200,000 jobs at risk and seeing everyday consumer goods and services increase by thousands of dollars for each and every family in Ontario," said Karl Baldauf, a spokesman for the coalition.

He said the reforms are "too much, too soon," echoing concerns expressed by business groups since the minimum wage increase was announced.

Key figures of the analysis were made public Monday and more findings are expected to be released in the weeks and months to come, the group said.

The proposed legislation would, among other things, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, require equal pay for part-time workers and expand personal emergency leave.

The bill would boost the minimum wage, which is currently set to rise with inflation from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, up to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018, and $15 the following year.

"Making $15 an hour is great but only if you have a job," Baldauf said.

Ontario's Ministry of Labour said it was reviewing the findings, but noted the study is one among many.

"Many businesses across the province have come out in support of our plan because it helps them attract employees, reduces their labour turnover and encourages employees to become more invested in the business," Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said in a statement. …

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