Timmins Chamber, Ontario employer groups call on province to "Keep Ontario Working"


Date:  7/28/2016
ArticleType:  Press Release

Timmins, ON | JULY 28, 2016: As the provincial government issues an interim report of its long-awaited review of Ontario’s labour laws, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce joins various Ontario employer groups in expressing concern that some of the proposals could negatively impact businesses and employees alike.

The interim report for the Changing Workplaces Review, which seeks to modernize the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act through Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, was issued yesterday and features some potential policy options which could affect the relationship between employees and employers in every workplace in Ontario. The province must be diligent about judging these options on their merits, and be willing to reject those which fail to adequately recognize the needs of modern working environments, according to the Timmins Chamber.

“Timmins’ business community acknowledges that work has changed considerably in the decades since the last review of Ontario’s labour laws, and we’re equally adamant that employees must be protected,” said Kurt Bigeau, president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

“However, in an effort to solve some of the problems in the system, Ontario should be careful so as not to impose more problems: one-size-fits-all solutions, like many outlined in the interim report, could remove the flexibility that many of Ontario’s employers and employees require. We deserve evidence-based policy, and the Government of Ontario should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess the impact on jobs and the economy for any changes to labour and employment legislation that they accept from the Changing Workplaces Review.”

The Changing Workplaces Review has been tasked with examining key workplace trends, including the increase in non-standard working relationships such as temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work, and self-employment. The interim report is the most recent step in this process: the expert panel overseeing the review will present its final recommendations to the Ministry of Labour in early 2017, when the minister will take those recommendations under advisement as the government seeks to change Ontario’s labour laws.

The interim report identifies 50 issues and contains 225 options for the Ministry of Labour to consider as it seeks to guide Ontario’s workplaces. In particular, Ontario’s employer community is concerned about several policy options in the interim report that the government is considering, including:

  • Labour Certification Rules: The interim report offers as an option for the possibility of returning to a card-based system for union certification. However, employers argue that the requirement for a secret ballot vote must be maintained. Achieving certification simply by signing a union card diminishes employees’ rights and transparency.
  • Scheduling Provisions:  The report also includes options that would create rigid, universal requirements and a one-size-fits-all approach to scheduling, which fail to recognize the diverse needs of Ontario’s workforce.
  • Sector Exemptions: The interim report includes options that would provide for changes to sectoral exemptions, requiring that sectors manage scheduling within guidelines set out by government. Doing so would ignore the unique, sector-specific needs when it comes to flexible scheduling and compensation.

To provide the business perspective within this process, Ontario’s leading employer and sector associations have created Keep Ontario Working, an initiative designed to motivate employers and employees alike to take a more active interest in the Changing Workplaces Review. The Timmins Chamber provides the perspective of its members through the Ontario Chamber, a key member of Keep Ontario Working.

“At a time when the cost of doing business in Ontario – and therefore the cost to consumers – is rising, government must consider the impact that these changes will have on Ontario’s competitiveness and workers,” said Bigeau. “Any changes to labour and employment legislation will have implications for Ontario’s economy, and that’s why it’s time for all of Ontarians, including our business community, to identify barriers to growth and recommend changes that will give businesses and workers alike room to grow.”

The Keep Ontario Working initiative is comprised of the province’s leading employer bodies, including:

  • Ontario’s Chamber and Board of Trade Network
  • Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services
  • Canadian Franchise Association
  • Food & Beverage Ontario
  • National Association of Canadian Consulting Businesses
  • Ontario Forest Industries Association
  • Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association
  • Restaurants Canada
  • Retail Council of Canada
  • Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

For more information on the Keep Ontario Working initiative, visit www.KeepOntarioWorking.ca

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About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce

With over 700 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

Media contact:

Nick Stewart
Manager of Policy, Research and Communications
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900
policy@timminschamber.on.ca