Retail council calls for repeal of Ontario's Bill 148

Calls legislative changes 'ill-considered, harmful to business and employment prospects of Ontarians'
By Sarah Dobson
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/26/2018
jobs, employment
While retail has grown in Ontario for several years in a row, since December 2017, 46,100 jobs have been lost in Ontario’s retail and wholesale industries (39,100 on a seasonally adjusted basis), said the Retail Council of Canada.Google Street View

Following in the footsteps of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is requesting a repeal of Bill 148.

The amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act “were ill-considered, harmful to business and to employment prospects for Ontarians,” according to a letter to the Ministry of Labour from Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the RCC.

“If desired, more balanced legislation could be introduced but only after a proper period of consultation and weighing different potential impacts.”

While retail has grown in Ontario for several years in a row, adding 40,900 full-time jobs, $66 billion in sales, and $4.6 billion in capital expenditure between 2015 and 2017, since December 2017, 46,100 jobs have been lost in Ontario’s retail and wholesale industries (39,100 on a seasonally adjusted basis), said the RCC.

When Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review was announced in 2015, RCC welcomed the opportunity to review legislation that had been in place, substantially unchanged, for more than 15 years, it said. And during the hearings conducted by the panel, RCC underscored the need to take a balanced approach that would correct problem areas and more effectively target bad actors in the workplace, but that would refrain from changes with a negative effect on business and employment.

“Instead, the previous government introduced sweeping changes which, cumulatively, are having a major impact on the profitability and in some cases, the viability, of Ontario businesses. Moreover, many of these changes were ill-conceived and poorly drafted, which has led to still further changes and remedial programs to address the mistakes made in Bill 148,” said Brisebois.

Among the RCC’s areas of concern are Employment Ontario spending programs, holiday pay, the increase in the minimum wage — rising 20.7 per cent on Jan. 1, 2018 with a further rise to $15 per hour legislated for Jan. 1, 2019 — pay equity provisions, personal emergency leaves, first-contract arbitration and the ability to combine bargaining units.

The council also has concerns about Bill 3, the Pay Transparency Act, taking effect Jan. 1, 2019, which will require the inclusion of a compensation rate or range in all publicly advertised job postings and preclude interviewers from asking a job candidate about past compensation. In addition, the act will impose an obligation to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and diversity characteristics.

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