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Chamber of commerce urges tax cuts for business as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath calls for beefed up labour reforms to help workers
The province’s most influential business group wants Queen’s Park to slash corporate tax rates to 10 per cent to offset the impact of the higher minimum wage.
Aug. 10, 2017

The province’s most influential business group wants Queen’s Park to slash corporate tax rates to 10 per cent to offset the impact of the higher minimum wage.

In a submission to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges a reduction in the current 11.5 per cent tax rate as well as other relief measures.

The chamber, which represents 60,000 members, would also like to see Ontario’s small business tax reduction rate lowered from 4.5 per cent to alleviate “the pressure placed on their revenue streams from increased labour costs.”

It warns that increasing the $11.40-an-hour minimum to $14 in January - and to $15 in 2019 - “will have extremely harmful consequences, the scale of which will be largely unknown until the full force of the legislation is brought into effect.”

Wynne has said she will soon unveil an aid package for small business owners and farmers coping with higher wage costs.

At the same time as businesses are sounding alarm bells, the New Democrats are calling on the Liberals to bolster the labour reforms to help workers.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Thursday disclosed her party’s proposed amendments to Bill 148, which is currently being studied by a legislative committee.

“Kathleen Wynne’s labour bill falls far short of what’s needed,” Howarth told reporters at Queen’s Park.

“Clearly, she doesn’t get what workers are dealing with every day,” she said.

To improve the forthcoming law, Horwath wants a universal minimum wage for all classifications of workers, including bartenders and wait staff.

As part of the Liberal government’s labour reforms, liquor servers, who make most of their money from tips, will see their minimum hourly wage jump from $9.90 now to $12.20 on Jan. 1, and $13.05, the year after that.

Horwath said no such exemption should be allowed.

The New Democrats would also like to see five days of paid emergency leave days for all workers - up from the Liberals’ proposed two - and an additional five unpaid days. The Grit plan says after two paid days, workers should be allowed to take eight days off for an emergency without pay.

As well, the NDP is calling for three weeks of paid vacation after one year of employment. The Liberals have promised that much holiday time after five years at the same job. Currently, workers are entitled to two weeks off.

“Workers should have a sense of security at their jobs and working people should be able to get ahead of the bills and join the middle class,” said Horwath, who supports measures to make it easier for workers to unionize.

With an election set for June 7, 2018, the NDP chief took aim at another political rival, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.

Horwath castigated Brown for his role as an MP in former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s caucus.

“He’s a cut-and-privatize politician who supported anti-worker legislation,” she said, referring to his record on Parliament Hill.

“They were attacks - direct attacks - on unionized workers.”

In a statement, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said the government “will carefully consider the amendments that are brought forward by the NDP.”

“We sent the bill to committee after first reading and travelled the bill across the province so that we could hear feedback from Ontarians that will make the bill stronger,” said Flynn.

“Our government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act is landmark legislation that provides new protections and rights for hard-working Ontarians. The Ontario economy is strong right now, but while business is expanding and creating wealth, not everyone is feeling it.”