Study claims Bill 148 puts 185,000 Ontario jobs at risk

August 18, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Public condemnation of the Liberal government’s Bill 148 continued this week after a study carried out by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) was released, concluding that 185,000 Ontario jobs would be at risk should the legislation move forward as proposed.

Commissioned by the Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Dufferin Board of Trade (DBOT), the review found that Bill 148 will have significant, sudden and sizeable uncertainty for Ontario jobs, economy and communities.

Data compiled in the report predicts that there would be a $23 billion hit to business over the next two years in Ontario, that 185,000 jobs would be at immediate risk in the same time frame and that there would be a roughly 50 percent increase in inflation. The report predicts that the cost of everyday consumer goods and services will rise by $1,300 per household on average each year.

“The changes presented in Bill 148 will have dramatic, unintended consequences that include putting close to 200,000 jobs at risk and seeing everyday consumer goods and services increase by thousands of dollars for each and every family in Ontario,” said Karl Baldauf, Vice-President of Policy and Government Relations at the OCC. He was the guest speaker at a special public information session held at the Lord Dufferin Centre in Orangeville last week.

“We’ve run the numbers and it’s clear that this is too much, too soon. If the Ontario government chooses to proceed with these sweeping reforms too quickly, all of us will be affected and the most vulnerable in our society chief among them,” he added.

Of the 180,000 jobs the analysis claims could be in jeopardy, 30,000 are currently held by youth aged 25 and under, and 96,000 employees at risk are expected to be women.

Alongside the hits to business and the workforce, the study notes that the Ontario government would need to borrow $440 million to cover the increases in new costs expected from this legislation. If the government were to provide offsets to businesses, as they have indicated, the Province’s treasury will take a bigger hit.

“Given the scale of impact and pace of change it will be impossible for the provincial government to make businesses, even small businesses, whole through offsets,” Mr. Baldauf added. “With amendments to the first reading of Bill 148 due this Wednesday, the legislation will need to see serious change, including an adjusted timeline for implementation.”

The bill, entitled the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, includes a number of changes to employee rights in Ontario. The most publicised change is a proposed increase to the minimum wage, with the Liberals proposing to increase that to $15 per hour by 2019. Also included is a proposal that would see part-time, casual, temporary and seasonal employees performing the same job as full-time workers entitled to the same wage, a clause that would entitle employees who are on-call to be paid for three hours if they’re not called in for a shift, and a guarantee that employees will receive three hours of pay at their regular rate if a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start.

Bill 148 would also give employees the power to take up to 10 personal emergency days per year, two of which would be paid, without having to provide a doctor’s note. It would also become mandatory for employees with more than five years’ worth of experience to be given three weeks of holidays.

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn indicated on Monday that the government has yet to see anything substantial enough to alter the plan to implement a $15 minimum wage. He did though state there would be a thorough review carried regarding the findings put forth in the report.

“We recognize there are concerns from the business community,” Mr. Flynn said. “We’ve worked hard to make sure Ontario’s business climate is competitive and we are committed to working with the business community to bring forward initiatives that will improve our competitiveness even more.”

He added, “That being said, we will not back down from our plan to bring fairness to Ontarians.”

DBOT’s Communications and Policy Analyst Nick Lumia told the Citizen yesterday the seismic impacts attributed to Bill 148 would be felt across Dufferin County should the Liberal government  push the legislation through as drafted.

“This is the first and only independent economic analysis of the impacts of Bill 148 and the major economists have revealed significant, sudden and sizeable uncertainty for Ontario jobs. If this legislation is implemented as is and at the current pace, there will be significant negative impacts directly felt here in Dufferin County,” Mr. Lumia said. “The results from the analysis are clear – it puts our jobs at risk, raises the cost of goods and services for households and increases costs significantly for all businesses in Dufferin County.”

He finished, “These unintended consequences place our most vulnerable at further risk and directly impact the health of our local economy here in Dufferin.”

A number of local business owners last week shared that they would be forced to downsize their staff and, potentially, close their doors if Bill 148 were to pass. Mr. Lumia says more needs to be done to protect those that have helped drive the Ontario economy.

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