Ontario labour minister says plans for minimum wage hike aren’t swayed by new report

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn holds up papers in the legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn says he’s not seen anything yet to change the Wynne government’s plan to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

He’s responding to the report from the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, released Monday, that says Ontario businesses stand to take a $23-billion hit within two years of the implementation of Bill 148.

The coalition of business groups also says the labour reforms could put 185,000 jobs at risk.

Appearing on CHML’s The Bill Kelly Show, Flynn said another report out Tuesday states ordinary people used to be able to live a decent life with jobs at the lower end of the spectrum.

He said, “they could pay their bills, rent a place in Hamilton, buy food, feed the kids and maybe not have a whole lot left over at the end of the week, but they could get by.”

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Flynn says there’s an increasing amount of people being left behind.

“There is nothing in the Coalition’s report to cause the Wynne Government to think it shouldn’t be in the corner of the working people in the province,” the labour minister said.

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Flynn also said the Keep Ontario Working Coalition interim report “talks about the risks and the rewards of the bill, but only details the risks.”

However, a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce says we now have some evidence of how damaging Ontario’s proposed labour reforms will be on the province.

Chamber board member Richard Koroscil says the Keep Ontario Working Coalition’s independent economic impact analysis clearly identifies the ramifications of Bill 148.

Koroscil says of the 185,000 jobs that could be at risk, 96,000 of those will impact women, and 30,000 of those positions will affect workers younger than 25.

Koroscil says the province is moving too quickly on the minimum wage hike.

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“Other jurisdictions who’ve done increases like this, like California, they did it over a five-year period. Seattle did it in over a four-year period. We’re talking about doing this over 15 months.”

The bill would boost the minimum wage, which is currently set to rise with inflation from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, up to $14 on January 1, 2018, and $15 the following year.

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