Letter to Premier Wynne: Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Monday, September 11, 2017

Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

RE: Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act

Dear Premier Wynne,
We, leaders of the York Region Business community, speaking on behalf of our 5000 members across York Region are calling on your government to slow down the pace of implementation and make the necessary amendments to Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

In response to the concerns raised by our members following the release of the Economic Impact Analysis by the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) coalition, we convened two Town Halls which gathered the York Region Business community for a discussion on Bill 148. These Town Halls were organized specifically for business owners and operators to provide insight into the potential implications of the announced changes to Ontario’s labour laws with a focus on clarifying provisions of the act as well as collecting feedback to help frame the conversation around this legislation.

Certain comments made by business owners were alarming and should underscore the severity of the situation for our business economy. A significant number of business owners suggested they would have to decrease their number of employees because of the rapid increase in operating costs resulting from this legislation.

The proposed changes would mean that employers would be required to increase the minimum wage by 23 per cent in six months, followed by another 11 per cent a year later. This represents a total increase of 32 per cent over just 18 months. Our members are alarmed at what certain provisions of this legislation will mean for their long term survival.

Another concern mentioned multiple times is the scheduling portion of Bill 148. A “one size fits all” provision for scheduling fails to take into account the different operational requirements of businesses in each sector. We strongly recommend that the Government adhere to the recommendations made in the Changing Workplaces Review that “the government should adopt a sector-specific approach to the regulation of scheduling”.

Ultimately, this fear is reflected in the Economic Impact Analysis by CANSEA which shows that York Region alone will have 15, 920 jobs at risk if this legislation is to pass in its current form. These numbers are highly concerning and show that the long term economic growth of the region will be significantly impacted if the legislation isn’t amended. Businesses must be provided a combination of offsets and amendments to adjust to the increased operating costs resulting from the new rules.

We urge you to consider the risks outlined, implement broad amendments to Bill 148, and slow down implementation in order to provide appropriate offsets that will protect Ontario’s jobs, communities and our most vulnerable.

To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth.

Sincerely,

Aurora Chamber of Commerce
East Gwillimbury Chamber of Commerce
Georgina Chamber of Commerce
King Chamber of Commerce
Markham Board of Trade
Newmarket Chamber of Commerce
Richmond Hill Board of Trade
Vaughan Chamber of Commerce
Whitchurch-Stouffville Chamber of Commerce

About the York Region Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade:
The York Region Group of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade collectively represent the interests of over 5000 York Region business members, and advocates on their behalf.

@VaughanChamber