Editorial: The people’s government?

Last week, Ontario premier Doug Ford’s self-proclaimed “Government for the People” tabled legislation to repeal work place reforms implemented by the previous Liberal government.

Ford’s Bill 47 will eliminate many added benefits that have increased costs for employers. These are the same benefits that helped those who needed them the most: low-income and single-income earners.

Added sick time and emergency leave in case a family member is ill represents an immeasurable benefit to a low-income family. The increase to the minimum wage has helped many finally make ends-meet for low-income earners. Protections for temporary, part-time and casual labour meant some stability in jobs which otherwise do not have them. There was a cost to the Liberal Bill 148 which overhauled labour rules, but there was also a large benefit to the legislation too.

Under Ford’s Bill 47, the increased minimum wage in Ontario to $14 per hour will not be clawed back. But the planned increase to $15 per hour on January 1st, 2019, will be scrapped. The minimum wage will be frozen until 2020. After that, increases will then be indexed yearly based on the inflation rate.

Most of the changes being implemented by the Ford government were called for by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and many business groups. Understandably there is a need for balance between the needs of the citizens of Ontario, and the businesses that employ them. There does need to be a reduction in the red tape involved in doing business in this province. Costs do need to be lowered in order for our markets to be competitive. According to SDSG MPP Jim McDonell, there are more than 380,000 regulations in the province that deal with business. Most of those existed before Bill 148.

There are other ways the provincial government could handle this reduction: lower energy rates, cut bureaucratic red tape within government offices, and reduce government regulations that tie up investment. However those corrections require more than a stroke of a pen. Evaluating real issues takes time. Is the present Ford government reacting quickly and making moves just for the sake of moving?

It begs the question: which people does the Ford government represent? Does it represent all citizens or does it represent only select citizens?