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Toronto, May 30, 2017 – In response to the government’s radical labour announcement today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is demanding that the Ontario government stop punishing small businesses with higher costs they can’t afford – in particular, a $15 minimum wage – while rewarding big unions with easier unionization in private sector workplaces.
"We are shocked and appalled that the government is broadsiding small business owners with a 32 per cent increase in the minimum wage within only one-and-a-half years," said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Ontario. "Small businesses, who don’t share the larger profit margins of big business, will be forced to make difficult choices, including cutting hours and jobs."
The Minister of Labour said in a news release dated March 24, "by ensuring that our province follows a consistent, predictable and impartial process of increasing the minimum wage, we are providing a more stable environment for businesses and more money in the pockets of our workers." Furthermore, the minimum wage was excluded from the scope and mandate of the Changing Workplaces Review.
"This government took the politics out of the process by indexing minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation in 2014," added Kwiecinski. "Now, they’ve done a complete 180 and are pushing this through on the backs of employers, with no consultation whatsoever, or any economic impact analysis."
The government’s proposals to establish card-based certification in three sectors and allow unions to access employee contact information deprive employees of the right to a secret ballot vote and privacy.
"It is abundantly clear that from day one of this process, the government has focused their attention on furthering the interests of big unions," said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. "We know they didn’t listen to small business, because government didn’t announce a single thing today that will help businesses keep people employed and create new jobs. Businesses create jobs, not unions."
CFIB has been an active participant in the Changing Workplaces Review, twice appearing before the reviewers and providing three written submissions, as well as meeting with the Minister of Labour, senior government staff, and other key representatives from government and the two opposition parties.
"We urge elected provincial politicians of all political stripes to recognize that small business owners simply don’t have the financial flexibility to absorb more direct input costs on labour like a big corporation," said Ryan Mallough, CFIB policy analyst for Ontario. "Small business owners are already feeling the pressure of incoming higher EI and CPP costs, as well as hydro, cap and trade, current minimum wage increases, and anything else that might be on the horizon."
CFIB is reviewing the complete list of the government’s proposed labour changes. Among other measures, small businesses are also deeply concerned about the government’s proposal to hire up to 175 more employment officers, which will only serve to create an even more adversarial relationship between small business and the Ministry of Labour.
To arrange an interview with Julie Kwiecinski, Dan Kelly or Ryan Mallough, please contact Ryan Mallough at 416-222-8022, or [email protected]