A coy election ploy

It is an excellent election ploy, with hidden benefits for both the Liberal federal and provincial governments.
Ontario’s Liberal government is promising major changes to labour laws that will see the minimum wage rise to $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019. The current rate will rise to $14 per hour this coming Jan. 1.
The government contends that 30 percent of the working force in Ontario today makes less than $15 per hour.
This increase will help the provincial government balance its budget on target for the next election. But it also will have large ramifications for every business, whether it is a Mom-and-Pop operation with one or two employees or larger operations with up to hundreds of employees.
It is going to be especially difficult for the food and hospitality industry.
Employers also will be looking at their payrolls to determine what across-the-board increase should be given to employees who have valuable skills to bring them in line with minimum wage workers.
In addition, employers will pay an additional 1.95 percent for the Ontario Employee Health Tax to the Ministry of Health. It is a nice automatic two percent increase in health funding to the province.
The province also will receive an automatic increase for Ontario income tax and WSIB.
The federal government, meanwhile, automatically will receive increases from employees for CPP, income tax, and unemployment insurance.
The unfortunate part of the minimum wage hike will occur in three ways. The first will be an automatic increase in prices for goods and services in Ontario to cover the increased labour costs.
The second will be a reduction in positions at the minimum-wage level to try and offset the total annual labour costs an employer is facing.
The third will be a decision by employers to seek cost-saving technological changes in their operations that require fewer employees. One already can see those changes at the local McDonald’s restaurant.
If one visits a Superstore or Home Depot or Lowe’s, the self check-out terminals appear to operate extremely well without a cashier. I expect we will see more of those type of check-outs across the district.
The proposed legislation also will increase annual vacation paid time to three weeks once a worker has spent five years with an employer. The workers also will receive two emergency days off a year with pay and an additional five without pay.
The new laws will be introduced for approval next week and should come into effect prior to 2018. It is a great election platform to run on.
It remains to be seen whether Kathleen Wynne’s ploy to lift the minimum wage outweighs her increases in hydro, and the rise in gas carbon taxes, and will be successful in getting the Ontario Liberals re-elected next June.

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