A wholesale revamping of Ontario’s labour laws – which includes raising the minimum wage to $14 on January 1, 2018 and $15 on January 1, 2019 – is sending shock waves throughout the province’s business community.

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOWC) – which includes the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) as a member – expressed its concern in a strongly-worded statement to Premier Kathleen Wynne:

“Government cannot regulate prosperity. To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth.

“That is why we are urging the government to take time this summer to have an independent third party conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis on the proposed reforms to consider the unintended consequences to employers. In addition, as the province’s biggest employer, the government must fully understand what these changes will cost in relation to the provincial treasury as well as social services and other government agencies.

“Why is evidence-based policy important? Only three years ago, the Premier’s own Minimum Wage Advisory Panel conducted extensive research and concluded: ‘In the Canadian context, researchers have generally found an adverse employment effect of raising minimum wages especially for young workers…typically those studies find that teen employment would drop by 3 to 6 per cent if the minimum wage is raised by 10 per cent.’”

Other members of the KOWC include the Canadian Franchise Association, Food and Beverage Ontario, the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Restaurants Canada, the Retail Council of Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

To his credit, Ancaster Dundas Flamborough Westdale MPP and former Flamborough Mayor Ted McMeekin – a former small business owner (Chapters … More than a Bookstore) and a member of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) – has graciously agreed to participate in a FCC Business Roundtable to explain the program and participate in a question and answer session. MPP McMeekin is currently the Parliamentary Assistant to Premier Wynne charged with examining the issue of rural poverty in Ontario.

Stay tuned.