MPP Monte McNaughton says Tory labour reform will encourage job creation in Ontario

Monte McNaughton in Toronto, during his campaign to become leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in 2015.
Monte McNaughton in Toronto, during his campaign to become leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in 2015. Newzulu/The Canadian Press

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton is defending the province’s decision to scrap labour reforms introduced by the Liberal government last year.

The Progressive Conservatives proposed a bill Tuesday that would eliminate two paid emergency leave days per year and includes capping minimum wage at $14 until 2020.

McNaughton says minimum wage will be tied to the rate of inflation after the freeze is lifted, giving employers and employees a “predictable way of knowing” what they’ll be paid or what they’re expected to pay out.

READ MORE: Ford government in Ontario rolls back reforms introduced by predecessor Wynne

“We made a commitment in the campaign that for those people that are making minimum wage, Premier Doug Ford said that he’s going to eliminate income tax.”

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The government also wants to reduce the number of workers’ personal leave days from 10 to eight: three days for personal illness, two days for bereavement leave, and three days for family responsibilities.

McNaughton said the two extra paid emergency days were standing in the way of job creation.

“We did a number of roundtables across the province, speaking with manufacturers particularly, the construction industry, small businesses, and those in the agricultural sector,” he explained.

“What we laid out … deals with the concerns that they had.”

READ MORE: Doug Ford government cancels funding for post-secondary campus expansions in Brampton, Milton, Markham

The emphasis, according to McNaughton, is making Ontario an attractive place for companies to grow and create jobs.

“Particularly in southwestern Ontario we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the manufacturing sector. We don’t want people stuck in minimum wage jobs, so this again sends a message that we’re open for business.”

The changes have been met with strong criticism from anti-poverty activists and organized labour groups who oppose the bill.

Hours after it was introduced, Labour Minister Laurie Scott said her constituency office in Kawartha Lakes had been spray-painted with messages that read “Attack Workers” and “We fight back $15.” Windows and a glass door were also smashed.

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She and Ford have also received death threats. That’s prompted the Tories to call on union leaders, anti-poverty activists, and the opposition to condemn what they say is a direct attempt to bully and intimidate them.