Premier Doug Ford’s introduction of Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, shows that his catchphrase, “for the people” comes with a caveat.
The Premier is “for the people,” alright, but only for the select few standing on the greener side of an ever-widening income gap.
Bill 47 passed its first reading Oct. 23, and will allegedly allow businesses to prosper while being free from pesky things like employment standards and fair wages.
Under the former Liberal government of Ontario, the minimum wage was poised to hit $15 on Jan. 1, 2019, as part of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.
But Ford’s introduction of Bill 47 includes freezing wages at $14 until 2020.
Ford is delivering on the first of many promises he made during his campaign to help businesses — the ostensible underdogs in Ontario.
He lent his voice to a chorus of doomsayers making predictions of job losses and declining investments last year just before the minimum wage was increased to $14.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce also predicted nearly 200,000 jobs would be lost and businesses would suffer about $23 billion in losses.
Data showed these catastrophic estimates were largely unfounded just six months after the minimum wage was increased.
The unemployment rate in Ontario dropped to 5.4 per cent in July, the lowest it had been since 2000, according to Statistics Canada.
The Ford government, however, continues to press on with this narrative that it’s the businesses that are being oppressed and taken advantage of.
The “regulatory burden[s] on businesses must be reduced to pave the way for job creation and new investment,” Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli said in a press release.
The proposed amendments to Bill 148 are showing that not all of these supposed new jobs will be created equal.
In addition to freezing the minimum wage, the Ontario government has also decided to roll back several of the previous government’s advancements in employment standards, including those designed to alleviate stress on industries that have been plagued by precarious work and exploitative working conditions.
These include equal pay for equal work, which guarantees the same wages will be paid to employees performing the same job regardless of employment status.
Ford is also trying to cancel two weeks of vacation for part-time workers and revoke the two paid sick days the previous government implemented.
Businesses can’t have part-timers taking time off. They’re too valuable as cheap labour.
Between stagnating wages and no paid time off, Ontario will be open for business because the employees can no longer afford not to show up for work.