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Ontario chamber calls for repeal of minimum wage legislation

Business advocates say Bill 148 stymies workforce growth

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is calling on the Ford government to repeal Bill 148, which hiked the minimum wage in Ontario under the previous leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

The chamber said there’s a common theme in testimonials from Ontario’s business community, that the labour reforms established under Wynne were “too much, too fast,” and hampered their ability to maintain or grow their workforce.

“Businesses across the province are experiencing real consequences from this legislation’s lack of stakeholder consultation and unrealistic implementation timelines,” said Ontario chamber president Rocco Rossi in an Aug. 30 statement.

“Premier Ford pledged to make Ontario ‘Open for Business’ by implementing policies that make it easier to invest, start, and grow a business in the province as well as build an economy that connects workers to jobs. This begins with the reversal of Bill 148.”

The OCC maintains its supports minimum wage remaining at $14 an hour, but said the business community must be appropriately consulted, and a comprehensive economic impact analysis needs to be completed.

“We encourage the broader employer community to join us in calling on the government to take immediate action,” said Rossi.

“As Ontario’s Business Advocate, we are dedicated to working collaboratively with the provincial government to strengthen business competitiveness and economic prosperity across Ontario.”

The chamber plans to campaign over the coming weeks to demonstrate the impacts on their members, such as the need to decrease staff hours and capital investment, and an increased reliance on automation.