Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs

test | Jul 1, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan. As an organization with over 900 members representing more than 35,000 employees, we represent employers of all sizes that are actively involved in local, national, and global markets. Our membership includes both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations all of whom play an important role in the economic vibrancy of our community. The proposals in the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan will have implications for these constituencies on their capacity to remain competitive, expand, serve their community, and generate jobs and economic growth. We would like to offer the local business voice on the untold economic impact associated with the imposition of such a comprehensive plan so quickly and in the absence of an economic impact analysis on the proposals. Communities like Guelph remain vibrant only if there is a strong local economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth. It is therefore worth noting that these reforms are coming at a time when Ontario’s economy continues to show signs of vulnerability.

As noted in the Business Prosperity Index of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Ontario Economic Report, despite projections that Ontario will lead Canada in economic growth in the coming years, diminished profitability, lower labour market participation, and sluggish market activity; along with other key factors, have resulted in a risk-averse atmosphere where businesses are disinclined to grow production. Businesses are questioning if they should grow in Ontario or expand offshore. Despite that, Ontario’s private sector is still doing its part to support workers. As the Government pointed out in Budget 2017, 98 per cent of all new jobs since the recession in Ontario have been full time, and 78 per cent in above-average wage industries. This positive economic activity by Ontario’s private sector demonstrates a clear commitment to good jobs throughout our province.

Through this process we are pleased to be able to provide the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs with the local business community’s perspective. Any changes this far-reaching should consider the broader economic context and the significant economic impacts of the proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act. Changes must also reflect a balance between a desire to counteract the structural changes that our workforce has undergone over the past few decades, and the need to maintain a healthy business climate.

To achieve this balance and ensure businesses remain competitive and communities like Guelph continue to grow, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce is recommending the following:

  1. Rather than rush implementation, the Government of Ontario should spend the coming months appropriately subjecting the proposed reforms in Bill 148 to an economic impact analysis. This analysis should have clear acceptability thresholds, and the reforms implemented should be limited to those that pass such thresholds or are being implemented with a commensurate economic offset measure.
  2. Evaluating the cost of implementation of reform on businesses and supporting reform where and when it is needed, and effectively evaluating reform proposals where it is unclear what the cost or the benefit of said change will be.
  3. Establishing predictability in the setting of minimum wage and the tying of future increases to an appropriate economic indicator like CPI. To plan effectively and protect jobs, employers need predictability and time to adjust the cost of other inputs where they can.

As an economic engine, Guelph plays an important role in Ontario’s future prosperity. As a leading community in job creation, it is vitally important that we remain at the forefront of issues linked to our capacity to attract and retain top talent and that we advocate for evidence-based decision making on issues impacting our collective economic prosperity.

Thank you for taking the time to review this submission. We look forward to working with you towards a solution that ensures our collective prosperity.

Kithio Mwanzia
President & CEO
Guelph Chamber of Commerce