The Milton Chamber of Commerce played host to The Honourable Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour and MPP Oakville at a breakfast event on Wednesday, November 8, 2016. Held at the CWB Group (Canadian Welders Bureau), the event gave Chamber members an opportunity to learn about the reasoning behind the Changing Workplaces Review, the processes used and the steps that remain before any legislation is brought forth. A question and answer session followed moderated by Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC).
“This legislation will affect the way all business in Ontario is conducted. It is vital that legislators take into account the concerns of and possible repercussions for business when proposing such sweeping changes,” said Chamber President Teresa Fujarczuk. “We are very excited to provide an opportunity for our members to join in this most important conversation.”
Both Minister Flynn and Allan O’Dette underscored that the existing legislation has not been reviewed in 25 years but cautioned that this review contained ideas and advice only. The final report and recommendations will not be delivered until Early 2017.
Minister Flynn commented that while the Province is wrapping up the second phase of consultations he is eager to hear the concerns of stakeholders throughout this process. The current report contains recommendations produced by a panel of experts and are meant to give three options to address each concern.
- Essentially retain the status quo.
- A moderate change
- A more aggressive plan.
(Read the report here: https://www.miltonchamber.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cwr_interim.pdf )
Allan O’Dette moderated the Q & A which related the OCC’s recent report “Reform that Works: A Call for Evidence Based Workplace Law Modernization in Ontario” with the concerns of Chamber Members. (Read the report here: http://www.occ.ca/media-release/13463/)
Allan noted that the OCC is championing the need to look at the unintended consequences of some of the suggestions in the Province’s Workplace review. He cautioned that the solution to some issues may be education or targeted correction of those businesses who are not in compliance with current legislation.
The possible repercussion of some proposed changes could have a big impact on the operations and profitability of businesses. Members Cam Binnie and Nathalie Brooks, both expressed concerns in regards to the proposed scheduling requirements.
Cam Binnie Franchisee, McDonald’s Restaurants employs more than 600 people, most of whom are part-time students. Cam explained that most schedule changes are initiated by his employees many of whom are students and rely the flexibility to accommodate school, extracurricular and family commitments. If the proposed changes were made, he would no longer be able to grant these requests or offer the same level of flexibility to his staff.
Nathalie Brooks of Brooks Heating & Air Inc. pointed out that the proposed scheduling changes would hinder the ability of small companies like hers to compete as they hire full time workers and pay benefits while many larger competing companies in her industry hire only contractors and therefore do not have the same scheduling restraints or pay benefits.
In response, the Minister noted that this is a perfect example of why this issue is so hard to resolve. There is a need to balance the ability of companies to answer the needs of customers and the work-life balance of employees.
Following the Breakfast event, several Chamber Members were invited to a meeting with the Minister to continue the conversation.
The Milton Chamber has already extended invitations to other key decision makers to visit Milton in 2017. Watch for future announcements about visits by Politicians and other influencers soon. The Chamber is committed to providing the opportunity for our members to have their voices heard.
“Dufferin Aggregates was proud to sponsor this event which allowed Chamber Members to have a real conversation with those making policy decisions that will affect all business in Ontario,” said Walter Heyden, Site Manager for Dufferin Aggregates. “It was a great event and Minister Flynn provided good relevant information that would benefit large and small business.”
The Bottom Line:
Provincial Labour groups have already been very active in the review process. It is time for Businesses to learn what changes are proposed and make their concerns and voices heard.