Minimum wage economic analysis should be done first, says chamber prez

BROCKVILLE – The president of the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce is concerned that no economic homework has been done on the impending hike to the minimum wage.

The province announced Tuesday it will hike the minimum wage from $11.40 to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 and to $15 a year later.

In an interview with Brockville Newswatch, Chamber President Pat Markovich said their organization has been supporting the Ontario Chamber of Commerce work on asking for an economic study.

“We really believe that without the economic impact (study) they have no idea of what the unintended consequences will be,” she said. That includes studying changes to holidays, sick leave and changes to pay for students.

Markovich said previous labour laws would deal with businesses that employed over 50 people and now this new legislation is “cascading down” to small businesses with five, 10 or 15 employees.

“I’ve talk to some of our constituents at the Brockville chamber and they’re quite concerned. It’s a significant increase when you think about it over a two year period. I’m not debating whether people are worth that. It’s a question can small business afford, can any business afford that level of increase over that sort of duration,” Markovich said.

The first wage increase alone from $11.40 to $14 per hour is 23 per cent – not including the costs to business for things like WSIB, CPP and Employment Insurance.

“What business can tolerate 23 per cent increase in anything?”

Markovich said the slow and steady recovery of the Canadian economy has come from small business and “that’s kind of part of that economic engine and these sorts of policies without the analysis can create some severe consequences for those small business people.”

There’s also concern about the price of goods from small business.

“I’m spoken to small businesses within our chamber and they’ve said either I work twice as hard and there’s not a lot more of me to work or my prices go up and who’s going to pay x amount for the goods and services that I provide…that’s a harsh reality,” the chamber president said.

“What happens a year down the road when these changes are in full bloom? What is that doing to small business opportunities as well as employment for students?”

Markovich is also worried about teenagers trying to get their first job. “Employers, and many of them small business, are going out on a limb feeling that this can be a community service trying to get these kids up and ready for their working careers and they may not be able to hire them at all. It will impact everyone.”

“I don’t have a crystal ball and that’s why I’m very supporting of the economic impact analysis done before they enact the legislation. I think that’s such an important step and it has been overlooked.”

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