RICHARD's desk...: Wynne’s bully challenge rebutted by president of Federation of Indep. Business

Wynne sounds very sincere in her defence of the average Ontarian. The big corporation which now owns Tim Horton’s shows its true colours: ‘play any game to maintain profit.’

Read the overture to this battlefront of the upcoming provincial election.

Pick a fight with me Mr. Joyce, not workers

KATHLEEN WYNNE OPINION

I got into politics because I believe in a province where everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead. I believe in a province that grows by creating more fairness and opportunity. A province where government exists to create positive change for people.

That’s why we are raising the minimum wage to $15 in Ontario. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because a decent day’s work deserves a decent wage.

This move isn’t about politics. It’s about people.

People such as Aisha Abdunnur, a 21-year-old woman from Ottawa who recently told Chatelaine the minimum-wage increase “will change my life because, hopefully, I won’t be constantly worried.”

She said, for her and her family, the increase is “about basic things” like simply being able to afford much-needed iron supplements.

The minimum-wage increase will change her life and so many others across Ontario. No young woman should have to compromise her health. No parent working more than 40 hours a week should have to go to a food bank to put food on the table.

That’s why the minimum-wage increase is the right change at the right time.

Ontario’s economy is strong. Real GDP growth has grown faster than Canada’s and those of all other G7 nations for the past three years and unemployment is at a 17-year low. But those gains have not been shared equally.

Big businesses and major corporations continue to celebrate record profits, while many people in this province juggle multiple jobs and “still can’t afford the basics. CEOs enjoy massive salary increases while their workers can’t pay their bills.

That’s not right, and it’s not who we are as a society.

It’s past time we put people ahead of profits. That’s why I am so disheartened when I hear some of the wealthiest among us want to offset this much-needed raise on the backs of their employees.

Workers at a Tim Hortons in eastern Ontario have been asked to sign a pledge agreeing to work nine hours and be paid for eight, and agreeing to lose their health benefits all because the owner of their store says he can’t afford the minimum-wage increase. I must admit, I was deeply upset to read these reports.

Because this demand is coming from Ron Joyce Jr. – a man whose family founded the Tim Hortons chain, which was sold for billions of dollars.

Asking workers to sign a pledge agreeing to unpaid breaks or agreeing to less pay than actual hours worked is neither decent nor fair. I’ll be blunt. It is the act of a bully.

If Mr. Joyce wants to pick a fight, I urge him to pick it with me and not those working the pickup window and service counter of his stores.

Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution. It’s a ritual before Saturday morning hockey and a daily habit many of us enjoy. But I know I want the person who hands me a tea or coffee in the morning to be able to pay their bills, raise his or her kids and enjoy the full benefits of’. life in Ontario. Again, I think that’s just fair –, and I know many people across this provinces agree.

Because at its core, the minimum-wage debate is about what kind of society we want to live in. I look to the south, where middle-class children lost health-care coverage in the same bill that cut taxes for the richest of the rich, and I know it’s the wrong path. That’s not who we are as a province and it’s not who we are as a country.

Raising the minimum wage is not a radical act. It’s just fair.

And I have read all the studies. I can tell you the overwhelming evidence is clear – a higher minimum wage puts more money in people’s pockets. It’s money they need and it’s money they spend – putting it right back into our economy.

I will never back down from my commitment to a $15 minimum wage because everyone in Ontario deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

__________________________________________________

Dan Kelly is President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. From that position he has the right to challenge Premier Wynne’s political assault against Tim Horton’s regarding the provincial miminum wage policy.

Kelly definitely offers some concrete and very strong point in rebuttal. See if you dont agree.

Small business owners are not the bullies here
DAN KELLY OPINION

Who’s the real bully here? Could it be the government that has said businesses that can’t pay a $15-per-hour wage don’t deserve to be in business? Could it be the government is publicly shaming businesses that are taking tough but needed steps to stay afloat and protect: jobs?

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s shock over small business owners’ reaction to the wage hike – be it increasing prices or reducing benefits, hours or positions – would have a lot more credibility had her government ordered even a basic impact assessment of the minimum wage hike before moving forward.

We asked for one, numerous times, over the last several months; 94 percent of our members want one. But the government consistently refused, opting instead to blindly roll the dice with people’s livelihoods.

Why would they do that? To borrow a phrase from the premier, “I’ll be blunt.”

This whole social experiment is an act of a government that doesn’t appear to give a care in the world as to how their actions affect the small businesses on Main Street. It is a pre-election goody paid for by your local dry cleaner, coffee shop and mechanic – not by your government. It’s about election optics, plain and simple. After all, it is easy to play Santa with someone else’s money.

What’s happening now should not come as a surprise. We warned them. Other employer groups and employers warned them. Banks warned them. The independent financial accountability officer warned them that business owners would be forced to make difficult decisions as a result of the speed and magnitude of the hike.

Small businesses are not multinational conglomerates. In fact, many of those with international brand names are locally owned and operated firms. The average profit margin for a restaurant in Ontario is only 3.5 percent.

The government clearly tuned out the small businesses that appeared before the committee – many of whom feared government retribution for speaking out – especially those from the food services sector.

The fact of the matter is that the Ontario government didn’t take a scalpel approach. Instead, it lobbed a grenade at your local grocer, accountant, and favourite restaurant and is now feigning surprise that the shrapnel isn’t contained.

The situation in the news last week is certainly not unique In fact, 18 percent of business owners, said they are scaling back employee benefits to accommodate the wage hike in a December 2017 Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey.

I’m even more concerned by the 28 percent who said they were forced to reduce the number of employees and the 31 percent who said they are cutting hours. Most worrisome is the; 50 percent of small firms who said they have reduced or eliminated plans to hire young car inexperienced workers.

Helping low-wage earners is a laudable goal and a discussion we should all be having. There are ways to do it that don’t hurt employers’ ability to provide strong, stable jobs, such as:

  • lowering personal income taxes
  • providing tax exemptions
  • enhancing the Working Income Tax benefit, or
  • providing targeted skills training programs.

Sadly, the government chose to limit the discussion to the minimum wage.

It’s past time we put policy ahead of ideology.

The premier’s desire to meet and have business owners come directly to her is a marked turn from last year’s committee hearings, which were stacked with unions and groups sympathetic to the government’s already-made decision. Many courageous business owners were turned away.

But if she’s truly had a change of heart, I can think of thousands of CFIB members – not billionaires or jet-setting CEOs, but middle-class Ontarians — who would love to tell her exactly what her $15 minimum-wage plan means for their future, and the future of their employees.

If the premier is looking to pick a fight, I urge her to pick it with me and not the independent business owners taking all of the risks, protecting the jobs and growing the economy

Dan Kelly
President
Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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