Bill 148 the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act has received royal assent. The bill represents the most sweeping changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in decades.
Recently, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce held an information workshop at the 2017 Business Summit, where attendees continued to have a lot of questions about the impact and how to comply with the new rules. The legislation also includes 175 new ESA and LRA enforcement officers.
The minimum wage increase to $14 will come into effect on January 1, 2018 along with a number of other ESA changes. However, there are two pieces that are in effect now and two more that come into effect on December 3, 2017.
In effect now:
Protection Against Employee Misclassification: The Employment Standards Act, 2000, now expressly prohibits employers from misclassifying employees as "independent contractors". This is intended to address cases where employers improperly treat their employees as if they are self-employed and not entitled to the protections of the ESA. In the event of a dispute, the employer would be responsible for proving that the individual is not an employee.
Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act: The Act now prevents employers from requiring a worker to wear footwear with an elevated heel, for example, high heels, at work, unless such footwear is required for the worker's safety.
In effect as of December 3:
Critical Illness Leave: An employee will be entitled to take up to 17 weeks of leave in a 52 week period to provide care or support to a critically ill adult family member.
Parental Leave: The length of parental leave will increase; this leave was up to 35 weeks long if the employee took pregnancy leave, and 37 weeks otherwise. As of December 3, 2017, it can be up to 61 weeks if the employee takes pregnancy leave, and up to 63 weeks otherwise.
Employers will be required to pay casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees the same rate as full-time, permanent employees when doing the same job. This will also apply for temporary help agency employees doing the same job as permanent employees at the company they are assigned to. These provisions will come into effect on April 1, 2018.
If you’re not sure how the changes will apply to your business you can contact a Human Resources expert.
We have several in the Chamber membership. You can find them under:
Or, there is a handbook that was developed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. That document can be found on the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce website at: peterboroughchamber.ca/advocacy-bill-148.html
Over the past six months, the Ontario business community has continually expressed concern about the pace of these changes and particularly small business's ability to react.
Three studies from the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, TD Economics and the Financial
Accountability Office of Ontario suggest significant job loss as a result of the legislation. All three also suggest the need for regionalization of the changes, as the minimum wage increase will have a different impact in downtown Toronto than in Peterborough. This point was mentioned during the panel session at the recent Business Summit.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has been in conversation with its membership since the announcement of Bill 148 at the end of May. In fact, the first roundtable with MPP Jeff Leal, Minister Responsible for Small Business was held in Peterborough in mid-June. The two dozen businesses in that room were not opposed to the governments desired outcome, but extremely concerned with the pace of implementation.
Those concerns remain today and were reflected in two written submissions to government, including this quote which captures the essence of the business case:
“This is a manufactured crisis. We [the business community] need government plans we can count on. We need change management and proper implementation. Roll it out over five years, we can figure it out. Roll it out over 18 months, we sink.”
The submissions to government also included recommendations to target the outcomes through income tax
measures, and to adjust scheduling measures for certain industries such as tourism, agriculture and weather dependent businesses (there were some amendments in this area).
While measures in the Fall Economic Statement such as the lowering of the Small Business Tax Rate and the incentive to hire younger people are proactive, more needs to be done to ensure that Ontario’s economy and the positive growth we’ve seen is not negatively impacted.
A Peterborough Chamber of Commerce driven policy resolution around cyber security to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) stay current was approved by delegates at the 2017 Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Fredericton. The resolution was the result of discussions with local Chamber member MicroAge Peterborough and then co-sponsored with five other chambers of commerce across the country.
The resolution will now be presented to the federal government by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC). The resolution asks that SMEs be allowed to write-off 100% of their business investments in cyber security-related software, equipment and other costs (support services and outsourcing costs) in the year those investments are made.
It’s an important change that, if adopted by the federal government, would encourage continued cyber security investment by one of the more vulnerable business sectors.
The internet is the road on which the majority of business is conducted in the 21st century and while business is responsible for its own portion of that road, help is needed to make sure it is maintained.
Earlier this year the CCC released a report called “Cyber Security in Canada”.Within that report it was found that “the primary concern for SMEs is resources—most have no or limited financial or human resources (technical expertise) to address the challenges presented by cybercrime; therefore, there is little inclination to invest in protection”.
The Canadian economy is comprised primarily of SMEs (98%) representing about 51% of Canada’s GDP and that is reason for concern. By incentivizing the adoption of cyber security solutions, the federal government can ensure that small and medium-sized business is not only protected, but if attacked can recover quickly and effectively.
The CCC report lays out the three main reasons criminals target smaller business:
According to StaySafeOnline.org, 71% of data breaches happen to small businesses, and nearly half of all small businesses have been the victim of a cyber attack.
At the same time, the dollar value of [cyber security] incidents is also on the rise, according to the CCC report. It goes on to sa that, in a recent PwC survey, business executives note the cost of cybercrime on the bottom line is increasing. These costs include downtime, compensation for breached records and loss of intellectual property. The Ponemon Institute surveyed 24 companies across all sectors for IBM in a report called "2016 Cost of Data Breach Study." It noted that the average cost of data breach was $6.03 million.
Given the numbers and the three points above it’s clear to see why helping SMEs protect themselves is important to the Canadian economy.
To see the resolution go to peterboroughchamber.ca/lobbying
If there were an untapped multi-billion-dollar market, would you want to know about it? Would you want to know if you were inadvertently blocking those consumers from doing business with you? And would you try to get ahead of your competitors by courting them?
That market is Canadians living with disabilities. It’s no niche market: one in five Canadians has a disability. And they represent purchasing power worth a whopping $55 billion annually.
Now, factor in the following:
In addition to the power of people with disabilities themselves, there’s yet another benefit to adopting better accessibility and inclusivity: other consumers.
While these other consumers may not have a disability themselves, many have friends and family members who do. Combined with the purchasing power of people with a disability, this group represents a massive $366 billion market.
And it extends further as well—78 per cent of Canadians are more likely to buy from a business with a policy of hiring people with a disability over a company that doesn’t. All of these statistics illustrate the business case for inclusivity.
Recently, local firm Lett Architects had the opportunity to talk with Accessibility Ontario about their experience hiring Amanda Motyer who has a hearing disability.
Bill Lett explains that when they make a hire, they want a professional who can look after all aspects of the job, from start to finish. “We don’t tend to pigeon hole employees into roles. They need to have that ability to not only work on their own, but also engage with the client, engage with stakeholders, and engage with contractors.” Motyer is no exception to this.
So what can your business do to become more inclusive and accessible? A good starting point is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The AODA aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for Ontarians with disabilities, with a goal of making Ontario fully accessible by 2025. The Standards under the Act contain the rules businesses and organizations must follow to identify, prevent and remove barriers for people with disabilities. The legislation also spells out reporting requirements that all companies with 20 or more staff must file a compliance report by December 31, 2017. The report can be accessed at: www.ontario.ca/accessibility.
Also checkout the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Enabling Change webinars at www.occ.ca/programs/accessibility-works/enabling-change-workshops
Over the past few months we’ve been hearing from government how strong the economy is performing. This strength and resulting prosperity is also being given as the reason for tax changes federally and for an aggressive schedule for provincial legislative changes to the Employment Standards Act. Now while the federal picture may not be exactly like the provincial one there are similarities and trickle down impacts. Can the growth of the past two quarters be expected to continue in the third quarter? Hendrik Brakel of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce takes a look at the main economic drivers behind the unexpected growth and what we can expect when the Q3 numbers are released in a few weeks on December 1st.
5 Minutes for Business: Canada's Economy is Booming, But Will It Last?
Boom! Canada hit 4.5% growth in the second quarter after a torrid 3.7% expansion in Q1! Sounds like growth in India, not a sleepy advanced economy. As a result, Canada’s deficit is lower than expected and the government announced additional spending. So is it time to stop worrying and pop the champagne?
There are four key drivers of this bonanza: (1) export growth thanks to the oil and gas sector; (2) consumption, because Canadians continue to borrow and spend like there is no tomorrow; (3) housing which saw the biggest gains in 8 years; and (4) a healthy gain in business investment. The question is whether these are likely to continue?
Firstly, Canada’s exports are set to rise 8% this year, which is superb, but is almost entirely driven by oil and gas sales which are up almost 42% so far this year. If you take out the petroleum sector, Canada’s exports grew just 1%.
But the export boom won’t last: the strong loonie and US weakness caused Q3 exports to fall 11.5%, while imports fell 7.1%. Net exports will be a drag on GDP growth for the rest of 2017.
Consumption will also slow down in Q3. Retail sales fell two months in a row (July and August). And job growth slowed: just 43K jobs were created in Q3, the weakest quarter in a year, with gains entirely in the self-employment category. Private sector employment fell for the first time since 2015.
Housing has been a powerful driver of growth, but the foreign buyer tax hit Canada’s largest and fastest growing real estate market in May. Toronto’s home sales have fallen 35% while prices were off 20%. The effects are likely to be temporary, as we saw in Vancouver, but will surely be felt in Q3.
The star of investment spending has been the recovery in the oil and gas sector but that is also facing tough times. The National Energy Board’s expanded focus on downstream emissions has created an effective moratorium on new energy projects. TransCanada finally pulled the plug on Energy East and in the last two years, $82 billion of investment has been cancelled.
So, we can expect a sharp downturn in exports and housing alongside much weaker consumption and
business investment. Statistics Canada will release Q3 growth on December 1st and we expect it to be below 1%. What should we do? How do we keep growing?
Look around the world - these are exciting times in tax policy! France has just embarked on major tax reforms, with a 2017 budget that reduces or eliminates several business taxes, while lowering overall rates. The UK Government undertook a major tax reform effort last year, but backed away from the most contentious measures in April 2017. And in the US, Congressional Republicans are determined to press ahead with the biggest tax reform in 30 years, to slash the general corporate rate from 35% to 20% while eliminating certain tax credits.
What is Canada doing in the midst of our trading partners' laser-like focus on competitiveness? We've just spent most of the summer in a ferocious battle over income sprinkling. Instead, Canada could create an internationally competitive system of business taxation that rewards entrepreneurship, encourages businesses to invest in the technologies, skills, and capacity they need to grow, and attracts capital and highly qualified people from around the world. That would ensure Canadian growth for generations!
All three main party leaders spoke to the over 300 delegates attending the Ontario Economic Summit in Niagara-on-the-Lake recently.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, Opposition Leader Patrick Brown, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath addressed electricity, Bill 148, the environment, the need for more inter-government collaboration and spoke at a high level of their
desired path to see continued economic prosperity in Ontario.
Thank you again to Bill Lett and the team at Lett Architects. The group hosted a PBX recently at their newly renovated studio. During his speech, Bill spoke about how one of his first networking events in Peterborough was a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event and how it feels that his business has come full circle as they now have the space to host such an event.
Another historical fact: the Lett Studio originally housed Peterborough's first grocery store.
Thanks again for your hospitality and 20+ year commitment to thePeterborough Chamber of Commerce.
Watch the full video and check out pictures from the PBX at Lett Architects on Facebook a at www.facebook.com/peterboroughchamber
Next month we'll be celebrating the holidays at Publican House Restaurant and make the #lovelocalptbo grand prize draw.
Do you have a story about your first interaction with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce?
Chamber members send your Member Milestones to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-748-9771 x0
The provincial government recently released its 2017 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). The plan features eight
chapters on affordability and accessibility, conservation, flexibility, innovation, responding to climate change, First Nation and Metis capacity and leadership, regional solutions, and energy conservation and commitment.
In the past decade electricity prices have gone up significantly. Repairs to the infrastructure of the system and the cost of conservation have been identified as just a couple of reasons why this has happened. The reality is that we need to produce electricity to fuel society and the economy. Therefore, the necessity of long term planning in the energy sector goes without saying. For without prudent planning future generations will be left in the dark by the energy file.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has analyzed the document and offers some insight as to the impact for the business community across the province.
Affordability and accessibility are key components of long term planning. The Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce authored a policy resolution that also asks for a comprehensive review of the costs of the system to understand where there are spikes and where efficiencies can be found. Reducing electricity costs for industry and small business is a top priority.
Flexibility ensures that Ontario has the ability to respond to changing market conditions, allowing the province to balance electricity demand and supply. Market Renewal could transform Ontario’s wholesale electricity market and ultimately result in a more competitive and flexible energy procurement system.
When it comes to innovation, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has long recognized that new technologies such as energy storage will be complementary to peaking resources such as wind and solar, while supporting the baseload operation of nuclear power. The OCC was pleased to see a commitment to nuclear refurbishment projects such as Darlington, the life extension project at the Bruce Power facility, and the continued operations of Pickering mentioned explicitly.
Transparency on electricity bills is key and there continues to be a need to create a separate line item on natural gas bills that breaks out cap and trade-related costs, especially if natural gas is to be considered as part of regional solutions to energy needs.
On the issue of climate change, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce asks that the Climate Change Action Plan seeks alignment between energy goals and infrastructure planning.
One final piece of the energy puzzle that has the potential to offer energy relief is the use of different
procurement models. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce feels that this is one very significant way to ensure competitive and affordable rates into the future.
Long Term Energy Plan
Ontario Chamber of Commerce Rapid Policy Update
Our Board members represent a broad cross-section of the business and professional leadership of the
community. The Board of Directors is the policy making body of the Chamber of Commerce and as such, the major guiding force.
In just over eight months Ontarians will be going to the polls to vote in the 2018 provincial election. As a result, we’ve crunched data and looked at the policy resolutions from Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade right across the province to determine the priorities of the Ontario and by extension Peterborough business community. These priorities have become a series of proactive recommendations for all Ontario political parties to consider to ensure growth for the province’s economy.
“93% of Peterborough Chamber members are small business. They support working families in our local community and across the province, and that’s why candidates from every party in every community will want to become familiar with Vote Prosperity,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “Ontario’s business community is prepared to be bold about making suggestions for ensuring future growth and with Vote Prosperity we are seeking to motivate our political leaders to follow.”
Vote Prosperity is based on four aspirational pillars
Two of the policy resolutions making up the recommendations were originally authored by the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
Modernize the apprenticeship system through the journeyperson to apprentice ratio to help alleviate some of the challenges employers face to recruit journeypersons to hire additional apprentices
This recommendation is the result of the challenges faced by businesses in the trades and often in smaller urban and rural areas. Adjusting the ratio to recognize the needs of these businesses offers the opportunity for apprentices to train where they go to school (Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre for example) and work and live in communities right across the province, not just built up urban areas.
“We are glad to see our work around apprenticeship ratios be recognized in this report,” adds Harrison. "Our members have been telling us that this is an area for improvement, so to have it be part of the election dialogue is a good step forward.”
Conduct and publish the results for a comprehensive review of the electricity sector, including an objective economic impact analysis assessing the full range of inputs that make up the Global Adjustment (GA), and then pursue cost-reducing measures based on the results.
Electricity rates have increased significantly in the past decade and in moving forward successfully we believe it’s important to have the proper understanding of the system, what goes into the final charge on bills and mitigation factors that are sustainable.
“Ontario businesses have made it clear that the ever-rising costs of doing business from all levels of government has hindered their ability to prosper and grow,” said Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Our objective is to achieve coherent, comprehensive pro-growth policies from all political parties. Our recommendations provide a prosperous path forward because when you vote for prosperity, Ontario wins.”
The provincial election is June 7, 2018.