CME asks Ontario government to rethink workplace reforms
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In a July 20 statement, the Mississauga, Ont.-based CME cautioned that the proposed reforms included in the "Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act" – including the controversial plan to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019 – could have unintended consequences affecting the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and discouraging investments in Ontario.
Proposed reforms to Ontario’s labour laws will make it more difficult for the province’s manufacturing sector to compete internationally and could even result in job losses, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) trade association says.
In a July 20 statement, the Mississauga, Ont.-based CME cautioned that the proposed reforms included in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act – including the controversial plan to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019 – could have unintended consequences affecting the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and discouraging investments in Ontario.
“The manufacturing sector is clearly critical to the Ontario economy,” Dennis Darby, president and CEO of CME, said in the statement. “Increasing the cost of making things in Ontario would only put future growth and jobs in jeopardy, including those higher quality jobs that we want to grow.”
“We are asking the Ontario government to conduct further analysis on the potential impacts of the reform,” he added.
Ontario’s Liberal government introduced the reforms at the end of May. Along with raising the minimum wage, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act includes a number of measures designed to benefit workers across the province, such as increasing vacation entitlements, guaranteeing equal pay for part-time workers, and introducing stricter scheduling requirements for shift work.
Among its criticisms, CME warned that the proposed requirement that employers must give 48 hours notice to cancel a shift and 96 hours to add a shift for example “would make Ontario manufacturers less nimble than their international competitors.”
And on the controversial minimum wage hike, CME said that “international experience shows that a steep hike in minimum wage, unfortunately, results in fewer total jobs in manufacturing. Scaling the increase over a longer period or putting in place parallel cost reductions for employers taking effect immediately (i.e. tax reductions, employment incentives, etc.) are tools to mitigate the negative impacts.”
Founded in 1871, CME represents more than 2,500 manufacturing and exporting companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.