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Ontario labour reforms should aim to better support small business

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The Ministry of Labour, through two Special Advisors, has undertaken a review of the Employment Standards and Labour Relations acts. CFIB has met twice with the Special Advisors to raise small business concerns. In particular, we recommended that the government not increase the regulatory or compliance burden of small businesses, and that any reforms to labour legislation should aim to better support small businesses.

In December 2016, CFIB’s Ontario legislative team met with the Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour. We were very clear with the Minister about our members’ serious concerns with some of the options proposed by the Special Advisors in their Interim Report, such as:

  • Making unionization easier in the private sector workplace by removing the secret ballot vote;
  • Requiring all franchisees to unionize if one location unionizes;
  • Making radical changes to the Employment Standards Act that would jeopardize the current flexibility enjoyed by small business employers and employees; and
  • Removing all agricultural exemptions.

We also mentioned to the Minister that making unionization easier would hinder young workers’ ability to succeed and progress in the workplace (i.e., young workers would find it difficult to break into unionized workplaces, which rely on seniority and internal hiring/promotion).

We were pleased with the Minister’s willingness to listen and his positive response to our request for consultations on any final recommendations from the review, before any legislation is introduced.

Specific CFIB recommendations from our most recent written submission include:

Pursue sector-by-sector consultations on specific recommendations in the final report before any government action is taken.

  • Retain the current system of labour union ratification, which includes secret ballot voting, and maintain the employee’s right to keep their personal information private and confidential.
  • Better educate small business owners on their legislated responsibilities, and work more collaboratively with small businesses to replace the Ministry of Labour’s current inspection-based, adversarial compliance and enforcement approach.
  • Preserve existing industry-specific exemptions in the Employment Standards Act (e.g., agricultural exemptions).
  • Develop a suite of free tools to help small businesses comply with the Employment Standards Act.
  • Recognize the needs of small business by considering options that are better than the status quo and not mentioned in the interim report.

CFIB is committed to participating in all aspects of this review. Read CFIB’s original submission to the reviewers. Our comments on Personal Emergency Leave were submitted on August 29, 2016. CFIB's response to the Special Advisors' Interim Report was issued October 13, 2016: Protecting Small Business from Unions and Red Tape.

Read CFIB’s response to the Interim Report, released July 27, 2016.

Read CFIB's submission on Personal Emergency Leave, issued August 29, 2016.