In recent months, business owners have been telling me that they feel like there’s a target on their backs and the Provincial and Federal Governments are taking aim. Some Government spokespeople are using inflammatory language that paints business owners as the bad guys. They point to current laws as being unfair, suggesting that those who abide by these rules are getting some sort of special treatment. In both cases, the changes proposed and timelines for implementation will make it harder for small business owners to be successful while some may be unable to continue to operate at all.
Instead of clamping down on a few bad apples to address real concerns regarding employee rights, the Ontario Government introduced broad-sweeping legislative changes to scheduling, personal emergency leave/sick days, temporary workers, vacation, unionization, and a 32% increase in minimum wage. In proposing such a significant jump in minimum wage over just 14 months, the Ontario Government is over-riding its own Fair Minimum Wage Act that ties annual minimum wage increases to Ontario’s Consumer Price Index and requires a full review of the rates and revision process every five years.
It is discouraging to hear the Premier repeatedly say that she will work with businesses to support them as these changes come into effect, while continuing to ignore employers’ concerns that these increases are too much, too fast for them to adjust. Economists have also outlined that the unintended consequences of these proposals will put jobs at risk and increase costs for all Ontarians, yet the Government has not altered its course. With an election less than 9 months away and approval polls at uncomfortable lows, it appears that this Government may be more concerned about getting political points than they are about protecting small business job creators and our most vulnerable citizens.
At the Federal level, the Minister of Finance has introduced the most radical changes in the treatment of Canadian controlled private corporations in 50 years! Nobody supports tax evasion or loopholes, however, these changes will punish legitimate businesses. And, they come after the government cancelled reductions in the small business tax rate, tightened rules on partnerships and started taxing work in progress. The huge gap between the government’s statements about the impacts of these proposals and the detailed analysis by Canada’s top tax professionals, suggests that even the Minister doesn’t truly understand what his own ministry is planning to change. I am pleased to hear that Minister Morneau is now acknowledging that the original proposals need to be changed: it is important to keep his feet to the fire to ensure that those changes fully recognize the concerns of small business owners.
On both issues, your local Chamber of Commerce and our Provincial and Federal colleagues are speaking out loud and clear to our elected Parliamentarians while working hard to keep you, our members, informed and engaged in our efforts to reduce the negative impacts of these changes on small business. Join our campaign by signing a petition, writing your Parliamentarian, creating a video or photo about your concerns, or by sharing our social media content on these issues. It may feel like you have a target on your back, but you don’t have to stand still and wait to get hit. It’s time for business owners to fight back to protect your business, your employees and your future. We are stronger together – stand up, speak up and make our voice heard!
For more information on how to get involved, visit our Issue Pages on Ontario’s Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan and the Federal corporate tax changes.