|Labour and Employment Reform|
Bay of Quinte, Monday, May 15, 2017: The Belleville, Quinte West and Prince Edward County Chambers, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne warning against potential changes to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA). The letter is cautioning that these reforms may have unintended consequences impacting job creation and competitiveness, as well discouraging investment in the province.
The potential reforms are coming at a time when costs for consumers and the cost of doing business is high and putting Ontario at a competitive disadvantage. Ontario has experienced slower growth in GDP and job creation than in the past, and drastic reforms to labour and employment run the risk of causing serious damage to the future prosperity of the province.
“These sweeping changes could seriously impact job creation and the health of our local economy,” said Suzanne Andrews, General Manager at the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses in the Quinte Region and other parts of the province have been operating in a constant state of flux for the past several years with the rapid rate of change being mandated by the province. These proposed changes, at this point in time, without an economic impact analysis, is just plain irresponsible.”
“We need to see evidence that a proper cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken to ensure there aren’t unintended consequences for businesses of all sizes” says Emily Cowan, Executive Director of Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce. “In a vulnerable economy, decisions based on politics, not on academic research and fiscal planning, could be disastrous.”
On issues of non-standard and part-time work, Statistics Canada data shows that part-time work has risen 22 percent since 2003, down from the 36 percent increase in the previous 12-year period. Recent studies show that 76 percent of part-time workers voluntarily choose part-time work to better accommodate schooling or personal life.
“The reality of implementation is costly but it also undermines a relationship between employee and employer that is built on respect and loyalty; something many private companies nurture to engage workers and enhance productivity.” Says Jill Raycroft, CEO of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. “The government is essentially telling private business they are not trusted to do the right thing so it must be mandated. The current Employment Standards Act offers a great deal of protection to employees; perhaps educating private sector employees on their existing rights and increasing access to support would be a more effective use of time and money.”
“We are urging Premier Wynne to complete an economic impact analysis of the proposed reforms to limit potential consequences that could seriously jeopardize our future growth,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We support reform where and when it is needed, but we caution against change for change’s sake.”
The OCC’s letter reminds the Premier that Ontario's employer community is doing its part to create a better jobs and working conditions in the province. Budget 2017 points out that 98% of all new jobs created since the recession have been full time, and 78% have been above-average wage for their respective industries.
The letter notes that the goals of economic growth and improved employee rights are not mutually exclusive. The OCC believes that what supports the competitiveness of Ontario’s economy can also help enhance quality of work. Increased education and enforcement may assist with compliance to Government regulations and can improve worker environments. Regulatory reform that raises costs for business, only to reduce the ability of business to invest in and grow the labour force is counterproductive.
Suzanne Andrews, General Manager
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