Media Release: Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Deeply Concerned Over Major Changes to Labour Legislation

· by Huzaifa Saeed

Hamilton ON, September 17th, 2015 – The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has called on the province to avoid proposals that would substantially affect Ontario’s competitiveness, jobs, and the economy.

Timed to coincide with the final consultations of the Ontario government’s Changing Workplaces Review, the OCC, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and over 30 chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province have publicly released their submission today, which expresses concern over previous deputations under consideration by the Review. Many of those recommendations would result in significant changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, and would increase the cost of doing business in Ontario.

“Ontario’s employers face mounting costs as the result of a new mandatory pension plan, rising electricity rates, and some of the highest workplace safety insurance premiums in the country” said Keanin Loomis, President & CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce “Before making any changes to provincial labour laws, government must consider the impact these changes would have on Ontario’s competitiveness.”

“We are also particularly interested in the Ontario Government creating a fair and open tendering environment and amending the Act so that municipalities are no longer classified as ‘construction employers’.” Added Loomis.“The City of Hamilton in many cases is currently forced to pick only those contractors that hold membership under a specific union, excluding private firms from bidding”.

The consultations have considered how the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and Employment Standards Act, 2000 should be amended to reflect changes to the nature of work that have occurred over the past 20 years.

In its submission, the OCC provides the Province with 14 recommendations, including:

  • Sector exemptions currently included in the Employment Standards Act (ESA) should be maintained — Some groups have been calling for all exemptions to be abolished. The OCC is urging caution, noting that exemptions often reflect the unique nature of certain sectors. For example, the agricultural sector is highly dependent on external factors including weather and the perishable nature of agricultural products.
  • Do not legislate how businesses should schedule — Some groups are calling for provisions in the ESA that would require employers to post work schedules two weeks in advance. This is not feasible for all sectors. Many businesses in the manufacturing sector, for example, must constantly adjust production in order to meet demand. The health sector is also subject to surges in demand which must be met with an equivalent increase in staffing.
  • Maintain a transparent process for union certification rules — The Review is considering a proposal to allow Ontario workers to unionize by simply signing a union card, and removing the requirement for a secret vote. Currently, the process to unionize involves an application demonstrating at least 40 percent support among workers followed by a supervised secret ballot vote. The OCC notes that, despite assertions to the contrary, Ontario’s unionization rate has remained largely static since the secret ballot was first introduced a few decades ago.

To review the report please download: Changing Workplaces Review Submission


Media Contact:

Huzaifa Saeed| Policy & Research Analyst| Hamilton Chamber of Commerce | T: 905-522-1151 ext: 230 C: 905-220-3030 e: