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Government kicks small business to the curb with passage of minimum wage/labour reform bill

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CFIB urges the province to take time to educate businesses on new workplace responsibilities

Toronto, November 22, 2017 – On behalf of its 42,000 members, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is extremely disappointed in the Ontario government for passing Bill 148 ($15 minimum wage and other labour changes) without any economic analysis or understanding of the potential impacts of the legislation on jobs and the economy.

CFIB delivered over 12,000 petitions on Monday to Queen’s Park urging all three parties to consider the views of small business in their final votes on Bill 148.

“The government did not consult on the $15 minimum wage before the bill was introduced and repeatedly ignored our calls for an economic impact analysis to determine whether businesses can weather a whopping 32 per cent minimum wage increase in a mere 15 months,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs, Ontario. “They also turned a blind eye to numerous surveys and evidence-backed studies warning of significant job losses, especially among lower-skilled workers.”

Apart from the government’s $15 minimum wage plan, Bill 148 also includes a number of major employment standards and labour law changes, the vast majority of which will take effect January 1, 2018. These changes will create a significant paper burden for employers, especially those who cannot afford to create and staff an HR Department.

CFIB is calling on the Ontario government to take at least six months to focus on educating employers about the lesser-publicized changes in the bill, before fining employers for new administrative infractions.

“We hope the government will listen now when we ask them to do their job and properly educate small businesses about their own new policy,” said Kwiecinski. “It is unreasonable to expect businesses to understand and fully comply with such a complex and comprehensive piece of legislation in only one month.”

The cost to comply with regulations from all levels of government is almost five times greater for small businesses than for larger firms.

“On top of minimum wage increases, Bill 148 will also bury small businesses in red tape,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Ontario. “Small businesses have already been forced to take steps to adjust by increasing their prices, cutting employee hours, or reconsidering their hiring plans for the new year as they brace for Bill 148’s impact.”

“What’s worse, there’s only a handful of weeks left in the year during the busiest season for many of the industries that will be hit the hardest,” added Mallough. “Business owners will have to really scramble to figure out how to be compliant with the multitude of new regulatory record-keeping requirements, including changes to leaves, scheduling, and tracking employee work.”

To arrange an interview, please contact Andy Radia at 647-464-2814, or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 42,000 in Ontario.