Ontario’s Employers Caution Government on Changing Workplaces Review: “You Can’t Legislate Prosperity”
TORONTO, ON. October 14th, 2016 – Keep Ontario Working (KOW), a group of Ontario’s leading employers, industry and sector associations submitted its final set of recommendations to the Special Advisors of the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR). While the group acknowledges that workplaces are changing and that labour and employment legislation should be modernized, they caution that employers and employees alike cannot risk public policy changes that would place unintended burdens on them. In light of this concern, the group has developed several key policy options in their submission calling for evidence-based workplace modernization, with a particular focus of caution in the following areas: Education and Enforcement, Scheduling Provisions, Labour Certification Rules, Sector Exemptions, Joint/Common Employers, Sectoral Bargaining, and Minimum Standards.
As part of their submission, the Keep Ontario Working group commissioned Philip Cross, Executive Fellow with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and former Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada, to analyze the issue of worker precarity. Cross’ analysis indicates that by several metrics, the concern around precariousness is overstated. For example, part-time employment in Ontario and Canada shrank in 2015 as compared to 25 years ago. Data also indicates that at no time in Ontario’s recent history have employees in this province enjoyed such stable employment; the average employee in Ontario has worked for the same employer for a record 106.3 months (or nearly 9 years).
Keep Ontario Working is concerned that there is insufficient data to support major reforms to labour legislation and that government should strengthen their data by developing and releasing a new regional survey. This type of data would help to identify the real gaps existing in employment legislation. The group cautions government against making sweeping amendments to legislation without sufficient statistical and economic data as it could result in unintended consequences and negatively impact the ability of Ontario’s businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.
Keep Ontario Working Group Quotes:
“Ontario’s employers have concluded that the Government must take an open, inclusive, and evidence-based approach to studying these proposals. The final recommendations in the Changing Workplaces Review will need to allow for Ontario’s labour force accommodate individual needs and the demands of the global economy. For example, many employees place significant value on the ability to quickly adjust work schedules in order to accommodate personal needs. The government should not seek to limit this flexibility.”
“Keep Ontario Working has sought to demonstrate that issues of precarious work in the economy are often misunderstood. While there are precarious workers and while some employers are not meeting basic employment standards, generalized claims of a precarious work crisis are unfounded. Labour and employment legislation should be modernized, but new rules should not be introduced that would negatively impact our economy. You can’t legislate prosperity.”
“The policy options in the interim report of the Changing Workplaces Review come at a time when costs for consumers and the cost of doing business in Ontario are already rising. Government must consider the impact of the Review’s proposed changes on Ontario’s competitiveness and workers. That’s why it’s critical that the final recommendations in the Changing Workplaces Review focus on growth and enable both employers and employees to succeed.”