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Timmins Chamber cautions province on overhaul of labour laws

Minimum wage increase could inhibit business expansion
Timmins chamber

Reforms to provincial labour laws, including the introduction of a $15 minimum wage, could cause “job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship” in Ontario, said the Timmins Chamber of Commerce in a May 30 release. 

In a letter sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne last week, through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Timmins Chamber said the government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act could be challenging for small and medium-sized businesses, which employ more than 87 per cent of Ontario workers.

The legislation, which addresses a range of changes to the Labour Relations Act and Employment Standards Act, is working its way through the government committee process this summer in anticipation of being passed into law this fall.

The chamber said applying a flat increase to the minimum wage rather than incremental increases – tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – threatens the ability of business “to expand and maintain their workforce while increasing costs for consumers.”

They call the changes a “one-size-fits-all approach” that ignores the specific needs of sectors such as mining and forestry, key industries to the Timmins economy.

The chamber contends the cost of doing business in Ontario is already high and these reforms only stand to put the province at a “greater competitive disadvantage” while jeopardizing Ontario’s future prosperity.

“These sweeping changes could seriously impact job creation and the health of our local economy,” said Timmins Chamber president Christine Bender in a statement.

“There is very real potential for the proposed changes to reduce economic opportunities in Timmins and discourage investment in Ontario. Such decisions must be based on evidence rather than politics.”

The chamber is recommending that the provincial government devote the coming months investigating the economic impact of these changes “with an eye on implementing only those that are proven to meet certain economic thresholds, or that are offset by other economic measures.”