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MPP Nicholls Concerned over the Unintended Consequences of Bill 148

August 28, 2017

August 23, 2017

Opinion Editorial:

MPP Nicholls Concerned over the Unintended Consequences of Bill 148

Kathleen Wynne promises to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019.

This worries me, and my offices have been inundated with calls from worried business-owners and worried employees.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life has become much less affordable under the present government. So I’m all for higher wages. Wages should never be allowed to stagnate. There is a need for the minimum wage to increase.

But a 32% rise in only 18 months is much too fast, much too soon.

Here’s why.

If the minimum wage goes up by 32% in 18 months, that will be a massive burden on business. Many will not be able to afford it. Many (especially small businesses) will have to stop hiring, and they may reduce work hours, or lay off employees. Anyone thinking of starting a business may think twice about the rapidly escalating costs over the next two years.

I heard this while I attended a committee hearing in Windsor on Bill 148. I heard that small and medium-sized businesses employ 87% of the Ontario workforce. That’s just under 4 million people! Those employees and bosses are the backbone of our economy.

I also heard that many businesses will have to raise their prices to offset those increased costs. Higher prices will have other unintended consequences. Ontarians with low or fixed incomes may suddenly find their grocery bills become less affordable.

These businesses reported that the more they pay in wages, the more they pay in taxes. Higher wages mean higher payments to the Canada Pension Plan, the Employment Health Tax, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and higher payroll taxes all round. These added costs mean more money off a business’s bottom line, less in your pocket, and more for the government.

One of government’s main tasks should be to make it easier to work and make it easier for business to employ people. We need to keep regulations and payroll taxes reasonable and manageable. We need to let the common sense inform good policy.

The Ontario PC Party understands that a heavy regulatory burden makes it harder to do business and harder to employ people. When changes are sudden and dictated by an out-of-touch government, the problem is even harder to deal with.

What was also concerning in this hearing was that it became obvious that the government’s limited consultation process of a mere two weeks was not enough time to hear from all relevant stakeholders.

In addition to this, the Liberal government has ignored our Ontario PC Party requests for a cost-benefit analysis to be completed. This government has not done one.

By contrast, a group that has completed a recent study – the Keep Ontario Working Coalition – reported that up to 185,000 Ontario jobs will be put at risk in the first two years because of new upcoming Wynne Liberal labour reforms. The study also found Ontario’s most vulnerable workers will be the most impacted.

This is shocking. It’s not right.

Will the Liberals do the right thing and properly consult and inform Ontarians?

Rick Nicholls, MPP

Rick Nicholls, MPP Chatham-Kent-Essex
Phone: 519 351-0510