Since January 1st of 2018, many people in Ontario who work an entry-level or part-time job saw a significant increase in their paychecks after the former Ontario Government introduced Bill 148, raising the minimum wage from $11.40 to $14 an hour. But along with the wage increase came numerous employers cutting paid breaks, decreasing benefits and cutting employees hours and overtime, citing increased costs as a reason. However, there was a silver lining in all the cuts, the bill mandated that all employees must receive two paid sick days and as of April first, mandated that all part-time and temporary employees receive the same pay as full-time employees, decreasing the wage inequality for these part-time employees.
The bill also included a scheduled minimum wage increase to $15 an hour as of January 1st, 2019. At least that was the Liberal’s plan.
This plan that was going to continue even under the new government, well at least until on Tuesday, October 2nd, Doug Ford announced: “We’re getting rid of Bill 148.” An announcement that caught the opposition and many supporters of the labour legislation off guard. “We’re going to make sure we’re competitive around the world,” claimed Ford. “We’re going to make sure we protect the front-line workers.”
After Ford’s dramatic announcement, Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson was asked to clarify the Premier’s comments, stating, “There are parts that we will keep and there are parts that probably will go, but we’re consulting on that. We’re just not in a position today to tell you where we’re at.” He followed up by confirming that the government is set on stopping the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour but everything else is still under review, however, he did call the bill “a real concern.”
Many labour activist groups are not too pleased with Ford’s announcement. The Ontario co-ordinator of the Fight for 15 and Fairness, a group that supports the law, Pam Frache, said: “We still think there’s time for the premier to change his mind, to do the right thing and to stand with the people, not with the corporate elites.”
However, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has a different view and would like the government to repeal Bill 148 as noted in a press statement:
“The very real unintended consequences have forced our members (Ontario businesses) to decrease product offerings and increase the price of products being sold, hire fewer employees, reduce services and hours of operation, cut back on employee benefits, and halt capital investment — all in an effort to stay afloat”.