Posted on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 1:45 p.m.
Hawkesbury has plan to avoid minimum wage crisis
No one is arguing against raising the minimum wage in Ontario. Both business and labour groups agree that an increase is long overdue. The question is how to keep that increase from breaking the back of small business and Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce thinks that it has the solution.
Antonios Tsourounakis, president of the Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce, led a delegation for his own group and other chambers of commerce in the Prescott-Russell region, to air their concerns to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) about Bill 148, the provincial government’s plan for increasing the minimum wage in Ontario and also deal with other issues affecting employees’ privileges and rights in the workplace. Tsourounakis emphasized that he and other business owners support seeing an increase to Ontario’s minimum wage but they worry that the provincial government is rushing things and that Bill 148 will hurt more than help both small businesses and their employees.
“No one can be against helping those at the bottom rung of society,” Tsourounakis said told UCPR council during its Sept. 27 session. “No one is against paying people a fair wage, and perhaps $15 is the right number, a number we should aspire to. But how do we get to there from here?”
January 2018 the minimum wage in Ontario goes to $14 an hour with a further increase a year later to $15. Both the business sector and many municipalities fear that such a rapid increase in the minimum wage could wreak havoc with their budgeting plans and could result in either reduced hours or layoffs for both full-time and part-time and casual staff.
Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce, with support of its counterparts elsewhere in Prescott-Russell and also from the Ontario Chambers of Commerce and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce, has developed an alternative proposal to the minimum wage section of Bill 148. The Ontario minimum wage level would still increase to $15 an hour but would do so over a five-year span and not crammed into two years thus giving both the business sector and also municipalities time to review and revamp their budget planning to accommodate the increase.