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34 per cent of businesses might sell, close or move due to Ontario’s minimum wage hikes

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Toronto, July 21, 2017 – After being shut out of today’s committee hearings in Toronto on legislation to increase Ontario’s minimum wage by 32 per cent in only 18 months, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has released preliminary results of an on-line survey that spell disaster for Ontario’s economy and job creators.

An astonishing 34 per cent of Ontario’s small- and medium-sized businesses would consider selling, closing or moving their business outside of Ontario as a result of proposed minimum wage increases to $15 and beyond by 2019.

“The economy is in real trouble when one-third of small- and medium-sized businesses say they are thinking about calling it quits in this province,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “This policy appears to be the breaking point for many small business owners, with increased costs for EI, CPP, hydro, and cap and trade already on the horizon. It will be a rocky road ahead for Ontario’s job creators.” 

The minimum wage hikes would also cause business owners to increase prices (66 per cent), reduce hiring (64 per cent), reduce hours of current employees (53 per cent), cut the number of current employees (43 per cent), reduce investments in their business (42 per cent), increase the wages of employees currently earning $15 per hour and above (34 per cent), reduce training of employees (23 per cent), and cut their own pay (23 per cent).

Additionally, 94% of small- and medium-sized businesses agree that the Ontario government should be required to conduct and publicly release the results of a thorough employment/economic impact analysis for proposed minimum wage increases that exceed the rate of inflation.

“That the government intends to move forward with a policy that impacts so many Ontarians with no consultation beforehand, or any economic impact analysis whatsoever, is downright irresponsible,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Ontario. “This is not sound policy; it’s sound bite policy.”

Respondents to the CFIB survey also noted that the Ontario government can best help improve the standard of living for low-income earners by reducing their provincial personal income tax rates (68 per cent), increasing the provincial basic personal income tax exemption threshold (65 per cent), investing in skills training programs to help low-income earners move into higher paying jobs (55 per cent), increasing their provincial tax credits (46 per cent), and providing them with increased social services support such as more affordable housing and child care (37 per cent).

“We challenge the Ontario government to put more of their own skin in the game to help low-income earners, rather than force businesses to foot the entire bill for this political carrot,” said Kwiecinski.

The survey also revealed that 87 per cent of employees who are employed by Ontario’s small- and medium-sized businesses earn more than the current minimum wage of $11.40 per hour, and 64 per cent earn $15 or more per hour.

Launched on Monday morning (July 17), the survey has already received over 3,500 responses from small- and medium-sized businesses across Ontario.

To arrange an interview with Julie Kwiecinski or Ryan Mallough, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.