Public Hearings On Labour Begin Friday

Public hearings for Bill 148 are coming to Windsor.

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs will be at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts Friday.

Unions and members of the Windsor-Essex business community will be giving input on Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017.

The hottest issue this year is the minimum wage increase, with many small businesses claiming it will cause a spike in costs to consumers.

Some going as far as saying a wage hike, expected to hit $15/hr in Ontario by Jan. 2019, will force them to close up shop.

Windsor and District Labour Council president Brian Hogan says claims that the increase will slow the economy aren't based on facts.

"Studies are showing it will not affect the economy in the wrong direction," he says. "Everybody knows we don't put our money offshore, we give the money back to the community. We're buying groceries, we're trying to help our kids at school, it's going to be a benefit to the economy, not a detriment."

A statement by The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says Bill 148 will stifle job retention and creation, resulting in fewer opportunities for low income workers.

Changes have been a long time coming according to Hogan.

"First time in 25 years the government is looking at labour law changes. Last time it was in the wrong direction for citizens of Ontario, Mike Harris gutted labour laws," says Hogan. "We applaud the Ontario government moving in this direction."

Hogan told AM800 News students and servers have been left out of the minimum wage increase, and it's one of a few areas that will need to be addressed.

"We applaud the $15/hr minimum wage in a year and a half. We want them to stick with that timeline, that's awesome, but there's some other things that they can do to help their citizens," he says.

A minimum wage increase could add stress to small business owners who are already dealing with rising hydro costs, and higher Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan premiums, according to the CFIB.

The hearings begin at 9:30am.

— with files from Rob Hindi.