The Ontario government’s recent changes to labour laws in the province, which includes a minimum wage hike, is going to be another hurdle for businesses to overcome, according to John Manley, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.
“I think the overall concern would be this is just one more challenge for business in Ontario,” the former Deputy Prime Minister told BNN in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re already dealing with high electricity rates, a lack of competitiveness in a number of areas, and now this?”
The change to the minimum wage to $15 from $11.40 per hour, announced Tuesday, was part of a slew of other reforms, including equal pay for part-time workers, increasing vacation entitlements, and more time for personal emergency leave.
With the move expected to impact businesses across the province, Manley warned that the government should be approaching policies with competitiveness at top of mind.
“They have got to get a competitiveness lens on anything they do,” he said. “We’re not an island in the Pacific Ocean. We are cheek-to-jowl with states in the U.S. with lower taxes and more business-friendly policy.”
The labour reforms come just over a year before the next scheduled Ontario election, which Manley suggested was a motivating factor for the changes.
“It’s a problem for Ontario that the provincial government seems to be running a perpetual election campaign on what are really populist issues,” Manley said. “They should be the people that say we have fact-based and evidence-based policymaking.”