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Canadian Publications Agreement No. 40727545

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Selwyn asks government to postpone labour changes

 

June 09, 2017

 

BY TERRY GILLIS

 

At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, Smith Ward Councillor, and business owner, Gerry Herron, brought forward a motion seeking Council’s support in formally requesting that the Ontario government withdraw the proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act until such time that they have done their due diligence by providing the residents of Ontario with a comprehensive economic impact analysis with mitigation measures in order to help businesses transition into any regulatory changes.

Additionally, the Notice of Motion, which was seconded by Deputy Mayor Senis, stated the reasoning behind the motion was concern over the fact that seasonal and temporary labour is important to the local economy of Selwyn, and the region’s economy is dependent upon a busy tourist and cottage industry. As well, with the government’s decision to make sweeping changes to the labour laws, including a 31.5 per cent minimum wage increase along with other changes to the Employment Standards Act, the unintended consequences have yet to be determined such as job losses, increased consumer cost and economic hardship. Also noted  were that the costs for CPP, EI, hydro and all fuels have seen increases recently.  The motion stated that there only seems to be supporting documentation to the positive side for employees, and the provincial government has not done their due diligence to provide supporting documentation as to any benefit to small business.

In his opening comments, Councillor Herron stated that the motion brought before Council “is not against the raising of minimum wage. It is not against the sweeping changes to the labour laws. And it is not against employee rights. It is about fairness. Fairness to both sides.”

As was detailed in the Motion, Councillor Herron and Deputy Mayor Senis were not requesting that the legislation be quashed all together, but rather, that it be postponed until such time as the implications of such changes can be thoroughly examined. As Councillor Herron said in his comments to Council, The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), as well as the Chamber of Commerce of Ontario had been working with the provincial government for two years to develop a strategy to help employees. Both the CFIB and the Chamber have asked for an economic impact study.

In response to Councillor Herron’s Notice of Motion, the Selwyn Township office received several letters of support from organizations including the Bridgenorth Business Association, the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, the Buckhorn District Tourist Association and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Peterborough Public Health submitted a letter in opposition to the Motion.

Councillors Ballantyne and Locke both supported the motion and the reasoning behind it, while Mayor Smith said that she would not support the motion.  She said that, as a member of the Peterborough Board of Health she knows that Peterborough County has the highest percentage of food insecure people in the province. “By providing a living wage to people, they will be able to buy healthier food,” Mayor Smith said. The Mayor also said that she felt that business organizations should be lobbying the government on this topic.

The Motion formally requesting that the Ontario government withdraw the proposed changes until such time that they have done their due diligence and that copies of the motion be sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Minister responsible for Small Business, Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, AMO (to forward to member municipalities) was carried and approved. Deputy Mayor Senis asked for a recorded vote which was 4 to 1 in favor with Mayor Smith the only no vote.