Over the past week, we have received many calls, letters and e-mails from our members and non-members alike, commenting on the apparent lack of understanding emanating from both levels of Government, regarding the proposed reforms that will affect business. From these contacts, not much has been positive and nor should it be.
On the Provincial side, the proposed Legislation under Bill 148 appears to be a done deal. The Government has said that it will provide offset to the business community but are very short on the details of what that will look like. It appears that something will be done and unfortunately, we as the business community, will have to wait and see. Unfortunately, the horse may have already left the barn when it comes to this Bill.
When we look at Bill 148 and the increase in the minimum wage, it is not the increase that the Chamber is opposed to. It is the speed in which it is going to be instituted. Our businesses are very worried that they will not be able to absorb these cost increases within the time frame proposed. The original multi- year phase in, although increasing those wages, were at least phased in over a period that businesses could work with. The only apparent positive for the Provincial Government has been the furor over the Federal Government proposed legislation.
Business owners have been incensed and we are witnessing a large and growing opposition to these changes, which are the largest changes in 45 years. In previous columns, we have outlined some of the details that are contained in the legislation that has been proposed. For small and medium businesses across the country, these changes are substantial and should be if concern for our businesses. The Government position has consistently stated that they want to eliminate tax breaks from the wealthy to preserve the middle class and make taxes fair. If that was their concern, better research and direction on these policies should be undertaken before these changes are made.
Last Saturday in Fredericton NB, Minister Morneau attended the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting that we attended. There were many concerns expressed by Chamber ’ from across Canada. The Minister indicated that he was listening to the concerns that business owners from across the country were raising in opposition to the changes. We will be waiting to see if that listening turns into action and that the Government does the right thing for our business community Only time will tell.
Peter Chirico is the President and CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.