Entries in Ontario Chamber (12)

Thursday
Nov062014

Province moves ahead with legislation to tie minimum wage increases with CPI

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was part of a group of Chambers of Commerce in the network to encourage government to go this route.  The recommendations in the September 2013 report called “Predictable, Transparent, Fair: The Business Perspective on How to Set Ontario’s Minimum Wage”  included adjusting the minimum wage every two years based on the cumulative change of CPI.  The government has decided to make the change every year with an announcement made in April and the changes coming into effect October 1st of that year.  

Ultimately, the Chamber Network report came to the following conclusion: “By tying the minimum wage to the CPI, both employers and employees will be able to reasonably predict the increases in their labour costs and salaries, respectively.  Everyone will benefit.  Workers won’t be subject to long freezes and deterioration of their purchasing power.  Employers won’t be subject to sudden and unforeseen increases in the cost of doing business.” 

Ontario Government Press Release: 

November 6, 2014 12:10 P.M.

Today, Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, passed third reading with all party support in the Ontario legislature. 

The new act supports Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy, and is designed to further increase protections for vulnerable workers. The act will help workers by:

  • Tying future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario which will be announced by April of each year, and come into effect on Oct.1
  • Ensuring Occupational Health and Safety Act coverage for unpaid co-op students and other unpaid learners , which will give them protection under the OHSA such as the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to refuse unsafe work
  • Eliminating the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages through Ministry of Labour orders to pay and increasing the period of recovery to two years
  • Expanding employment protections to cover all foreign employees who come to Ontario under an immigration or foreign temporary employee program
  • Holding temporary help agencies and their employer clients accountable for certain employment standards violations, such as failure to pay regular wages, overtime pay, and public holiday entitlements.

Protecting vulnerable workers and making the minimum wage fair is part of the government's economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

“Taking the politics out of setting the minimum wage provides fairness for workers and predictability for businesses. This legislation will also protect the most vulnerable workers and level the playing field for employers who play by the rules. These are the right steps to take; they will make Ontario a better place to work and run a business.” Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour

 

Friday
Oct242014

Government announces independent review of Ontario College of Trades, pauses trade classification

On Thursday, October 23, 2014, the Government of Ontario announced the appointment of Tony Dean, former Secretary of Cabinet and Head of Ontario Public Service, to lead an independent review of the Ontario College of Trades and other key areas of Ontario's skilled trades system.

Included under the purview of the review will be issues related to the scope of practice performed by a tradesperson, as well as the process for the classification of compulsory versus voluntary trades. Findings will be presented to both the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities and the College of Trades in October 2015.

The Government of Ontario also announced that all trade classification reviews will be paused during the duration of Mr. Dean's review. Currently, the College is mandated to consider applications that seek to change the certification of trades from voluntary to compulsory. A compulsory trade is one in which workers must acquire a certificate of qualification from a government-accredited school in order to perform work in that trade. Workers in trades classified as compulsory must pay the College an annual membership fee of $120.

This review comes at a pivotal time. In its current form, the College is poorly positioned to deliver on many of the core elements of its mandate, which includes oversight of journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios, ensuring industry compliance and certification, and addressing labour market shortages by promoting careers in the skilled trades.

The announcement is a first step towards supporting the success of the skilled trades in the province. Over the last year, concerns have mounted over the College’s compulsory membership structure, as well as bias in the College's trade classification review process. However, the review does not touch upon other key areas of the College's mandate, including Ontario's high journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios and low apprenticeship completion rates, as well as the low number of youth entering the skilled trades as a career.

Since the College’s creation in 2009, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Network have led the conversation about reforming the College of Trades. In October of 2013, the OCC released the report, Caution: Work Ahead, which highlights several serious issues facing the College and provides six recommendations that will make the College more responsive to employers’ needs.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce will participate vigorously in the review and continue to advocate for changes in the ratio review process.

Peterborough Chamber Voice of Business Articles: 

College of Trades failing to make the grade with industry and its tradespeople - January 10, 2013 

OCC: Apprentice ratios under the microscope - March 7, 2013

OCC: Policy resolution on Ontario College of Trades now on the books - May 16, 2013

Apprenticeship ratio reviews, membership ... still a lot of questions around the Ontario College of Trades - September 19, 2013

OCC: Reform needed for the College of Trades - November 7, 2013

 

 

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