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CME urges Ontario government to rethink workplace reforms

Published by Stefi Proulx on July 20, 2017

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is concerned that the proposed reforms included in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act could have unintended consequences affecting the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and discouraging investments in Ontario. CME will be presenting the priorities of manufacturers to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs this Thursday and intends to urge the Ontario government to proceed with consultations and economic impact analysis to understand and address possible negative effects.

In Ontario, manufacturers directly account for over 12 per cent of provincial GDP, has over $300 billion in annual output and accounts for over 80 per cent of exports. In achieving this, manufacturers employ over 750,000 Ontarians in high value, high paying jobs and indirectly support another 1.5 million Ontario workers. "The manufacturing sector is clearly critical to the Ontario economy," said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME. "Increasing the cost of making things in Ontario would only put future growth and jobs in jeopardy, including those higher quality jobs that we want to grow."

"We are asking the Ontario government to conduct further analysis on the potential impacts of the reform," stated Darby. "We are also urging the government to consider exemptions and measures to offset new costs associated with these changes for the manufacturing sector." CME has identified specific areas of concern including:

  • Elimination of flexibility in labour relations: The requirement that employers must give 48 hours notice to cancel a shift and 96 hours to add a shift for example, would make Ontario manufacturers less nimble than their international competitors. 
  • Minimum wage and other increased costs: International experience shows that a steep hike in minimum wage, unfortunately, results in fewer total jobs in manufacturing. Scaling the increase over a longer period or putting in place parallel cost reductions for employers taking effect immediately (ie. Tax reductions, employment incentives, etc.) are tools to mitigate the negative impacts.
  • Recognition of workplace rights of all parties: The suggested reforms to the Labour Relations Act, including the expansion of card based certification, allowing for the consolidation of bargaining units and the requirement that employers provide access to employee's personal contact info upon demonstration of 20% support create privacy and other concerns.

"We are committed to working with the government to find solutions that mitigate costs to businesses and foster high-quality manufacturing jobs in Ontario," assured Darby. Ontario manufacturers have advocated for the adoption of a manufacturing strategy, targeting reductions in non-wage related costs such as energy and taxation, combined with support for innovation and skills training to move businesses and individuals into higher value-added activities.

About the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters:
Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and thrive around the world. In 2016, CME released Industrie 2030 - a roadmap for doubling Canadian manufacturing activity by 2030. Our focus is to ensure the sector is dynamic, profitable, productive, innovative and growing. We aim to do this by strengthening the labour force, accelerating the adoption of advanced technology, supporting product commercialization, expanding marketplaces and, most importantly, ensuring a globally-competitive business environment. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada's exports.

For more information, please contact:
Stefi Proulx
Senior Communications Advisor
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

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