By MPP Toby Barrett

 Ontario workers and businesses deserve a minimum wage determined by economics, not politics – a principle that all provincial political parties had previously followed when it was agreed the minimum wage would rise with the rate of inflation.

The Making Ontario Open for Business Act, if passed, will keep Ontario’s minimum wage at $14. As of October 2020, annual increases to the minimum wage will increase on an economically sound metric – inflation.

Lower-income workers and their families deserve a break, which is why low-income earners should pay no provincial income tax. For minimum-wage workers to have more money in their pockets the answer is very simple – stop taxing them!

Bill 47, The Making Ontario Open for Business Act, will correct the previous government’s disastrous personal emergency leave program – a piece of red tape so burdensome it discouraged employers from hiring new workers. Instead, our government will introduce a consistent, simple system where every Ontario worker will now have a straightforward package of annual leave days including three sick days, three family responsibility days and two bereavement days every year.

Time spent with family is important. The Ontario government will protect three weeks of paid vacation after five years for every Ontario worker. Further, we will continue to support job-protected domestic or sexual violence leave.

Bill 47 will reverse the needless scheduling restrictions and give back to employers the flexibility to have the right staff at the right time. These reforms will protect Ontarians’ privacy and personal information. We are also repealing the rules that gave unions access to employees’ personal information, even if only 20 per cent showed an interest in joining a union, and the rules that force card-based certification on new sectors. Our reforms give back to those workers the right to a democratic secret ballot.

We will repeal the overly broad scheduling provisions of Bill 148 that affected our hospitals, our restaurants and our manufacturers. Provisions requiring employers to give employees 96 hours notice of a shift change and on-call pay both hiked costs.

Our government is also working to improve access to the skilled trades. One in five new jobs in the next five years will be trades-related, but the key problem that exists now is employers cannot find apprentices and apprentices cannot find jobs.

In Ontario, ratios are amongst the highest in the country and are a major deterrent for employers looking to hire apprentices. The current ratio regime limits the number of apprentices an employer can train. This makes absolutely no sense, especially when employers need apprentices and apprentices need employers. This backward system is limiting our growth and the number of jobs available in the province.

Our government believes if you are ready, willing, and prepared to do the work, then you deserve a shot at the job.

Bill 47 will transform and modernize the apprenticeship system by proposing amendments to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act to lower the journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratios to a simple 1-to-1.

The reforms we are introducing are deliberate and thoughtful, unlike the last-minute changes the previous government made in reaction to the polls. This comprehensive package of reforms will help unlock the job-creating potential in Ontario’s economy, while protecting and preserving important provisions for current workers.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk