Nearly 60 per cent of Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce members who took part in a province-wide survey are opposed to a hike in Ontario's minimum wage to $10 an hour. In a recent survey conducted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, 57 per cent of Halton Hills chamber members who responded said they were opposed to the increase, while 43 per cent supported it. "Some sectors would clearly suffer more than others," said Halton Hills Chamber President Helen MacCormack. "The service sector is a major source of local employment and we must be careful that increases to the minimum wage do not significantly impact employment levels or consumer prices." Minimum wage in Ontario jumped 25 cents on Feb. 1 to $8 an hour. The Ontario NDP has tabled a private member's bill proposing the wage increase to $10. The bill by MPP Cheri DiNovo (NDP- Parkdale-High Park) received second reading and has been referred to committee for further discussion. Len Crispino, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, stressed businesses in Ontario are not just concerned about the bottom line.
"While we do not want our province to prosper on the backs of cheap labour we must find the right balance in order to protect Ontario's position in a competitive global marketplace."
In a province-wide survey respondents from across the province were opposed to an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $10, business owners in areas such as agriculture, retail, restaurant and food services, and tourism and hospitality indicated that this sudden adjustment would have a significant negative effect on their businesses.
"A gradual increase is simply prudent as it allows businesses to adjust to increased labour costs and plan their budgets accordingly," said Crispino. "We would continue to advocate any increases maintain this measured approach." Medium sized companies (25 to 250 employees) have expressed stronger opposition than any other group to the increase in the minimum wage to $10. Within this group, companies employing less than 50 employees have shown the greatest disagreement (64 per cent) to an immediate increase to $10, and appear to be most vulnerable to wage increases. Half of these companies indicated that the increase in minimum wage would negatively affect their business. Social and ethical concerns about low-wage Ontarians appear to be the primary considerations for those supporting the increase, echoing previous support by Ontario Chamber members for policies addressing the needs of lower income Ontarians and reducing the tax we must burden on the poor. In total 2,124 respondents from across Ontario participated in the survey, with 49 local businesses taking part.