Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, I Object! Letter to the Editor

Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, Thumbs down
Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, I Object! Letter to the Editor
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I am writing to express my objection to the government’s proposed Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan.

I have been in business for 46 years. I still work a 12 hour day. My small business is healthy, our staff are cared for and cherished and we excel at customer service.

With the exception of the Bob Rae years, I will tell you that I have never been so disgusted with your blatant abuse of this province’s small business community. This whole labour reform process is being laid squarely on the shoulders of the men and women who take leadership, risk their investments and their own personal livelihood.

Yes, we expect to earn a profit. Do we not deserve that? Many business people will be hard pressed to earn fair wages themselves once you implement this draconian legislation. I can tell you that there were many years in the development of my business that I did not even earn minimum wage, whatever it was at the time. My income was funnelled back into our company to grow and build. I am not alone. There seems to be a misconception by government that all corporations, regardless of their size, are rich and have a responsibility to support labour. That is absolutely false and totally unfair.

I object to the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan because the sweeping changes proposed in the plan will tip Ontario’s economic balance in a profoundly negative way.

In fact, I ask, did your government ever consider giving higher tax deductions directly to those vulnerable lower wage earners? Government employees continually out-distance the private sector on average wages. Why doesn’t government do it’s share to support the vulnerable lower income earners?

It’s difficult to comprehend how a government who squandered over a billion dollars for cancellation of gas plant or millions of dollars on wages for hydro executives or millions spent on trying to bring in an Ontario pension plan….on and on….feels good about whacking the business community with the responsibility of propping up the province.

Young people beginning their work life will be among the hardest sector to be hit by this huge jump in minimum wage. I can tell you that our business will not be hiring young people with no work experience. We simply can’t afford to take the chance of a young person who will be costing upwards of $18/hr (including costs of CPP,EI, EHT, WSIB and Vacation Pay) to be learning how to work at our costs; not learning the skills of our profession; I mean learning how to work.

In the landscape/construction industry, wages account for approximately 30% of operating costs, which will mean that the minimum wage, unskilled employees will be billed out to our customers at a rate of approximately $60/hr. That is what we now charge for our skilled landscapers! The underground economy which already thrives in our industry, will continue to excel, just as the Uber and Airbnb has become the competitor to hotels, taxi drivers etc. After all, the consumer market will continue to look for ways to avoid paying the costs these increased wages will bring about.

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Rigid scheduling will hurt both employers and employees. A one-size-fits-all approach to scheduling fails to recognize the diversity of Ontario’s economy and will remove the flexibility that part time workers enjoy. The need for flexible scheduling applies to many sectors but health, manufacturing and food services will be particularly hard it. The bottom line is, flexible scheduling rules are good for the employer and the employee.

The government needs to focus on education, not enforcement.

The Changing Workplaces Review report stated that the employer community is “overwhelmingly law-abiding and respectful of the rights of its employees”. I absolutely support taking action against those who willfully ignore their obligations under the law. Fundamental to this is ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to educate employers so that they fully understand these obligations. Non-compliance of the laws by the few employers who do not follow and operate their business lawfully need to be isolated and punished. Respectable, hard-working businesses want that fairness as much as employees.

I urge you to consider the economic consequences of your proposed Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan. The government needs to conduct a comprehensive economic analysis of all of the reforms outlined in the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan. The analysis needs to have clear acceptability thresholds and the reforms that are implemented need to be limited to only those that pass such thresholds. An economic analysis is the only way that the Government of Ontario can protect jobs and workers against the unintended consequences that will come as a result of implementing these recommendations.

In summary, my ask is simple; please spend the coming months appropriately subjecting the proposed reforms in the Fair Workplace and Better Jobs Plan to an economic impact analysis.

I look forward to your response.

Kathy Thomas
President
Green Thumb Landscaping Limited

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