Big Labour could be coming to a small business near you

Julie Kwiecinski —

It may only be an interim report, but proposed changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations acts suggested by the Changing Workplaces Reviewwould be devastating to Ontario’s small employers and their employees if they were to be adopted by the Minister of Labour, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Most alarming is the interim report’s consideration of reintroducing the anti-democratic card-based union certification process to Ontario’s workplaces to replace the secret ballot vote. The interim report also proposes an option that would allow union organizers to access employee personal information upon request.

“Big Labour is coming for small business and this interim report is helping them get there,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “Government is not the place for unions to seek ways to boost their memberships and bank accounts. Unions should have to find their own ways to modernize like everybody else, and that doesn’t mean going “Back to the Future” to revive past legislation from the 90s.”

The numerous options outlined in the interim report could also significantly increase the already-onerous red tape burden for Ontario’s businesses. It already costs Ontario’s businesses nearly $15 billion annually to comply with regulations at all levels of government, and employment standards rank as the third most burdensome provincial regulations area for Ontario’s small businesses.

“Additional red tape always comes with new regulations,” said Kwiecinski. “The vast majority of small businesses are already compliant with employment standards. Instead of penalizing the good for the sake of the few, the government should better use its current enforcement tools and better educate small business owners on their legislated responsibilities.”

The 312-page interim report of the Changing Workplaces Review proposes a number of options, none of which is better than the status quo for small businesses. Some of the options, if adopted, would lead to increased union memberships through franchises; less flexibility for youth, seniors and others to work part-time; and more restrictions for temporary employment agencies.

CFIB met with the special advisors on two separate occasions and made two previous submissions on the review in September 2015 and August 2016. CFIB’s latest and final submission (Protecting Small Business from Unions & Red Tapewas shared with the special advisors today. Their final report with recommendations is expected to be provided to the Minister of Labour later this year.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 42,000 in Ontario representing approximately 500,000 employees.