The fall looks to be a crammed legislative session dealing with Premier Ford’s election promises. Of key interest to Ontario’s horticulture industry is the premier’s promise concerning the minimum wage. The former Liberal government had intentions of raising it again on Jan 1, 2019, to $15 per hour after making the largest jump in history, from $11.60 to $14 per hour. The nearly 20 per cent increase proved to be a hardship for many small businesses, not the least being the agriculture sector.
But according to a recent open letter by the Ontario minister of labour published in the Sept. 17, 2018 Financial Post,the current government will follow through on its election promise to hold the line on minimum wage. Minister Scott writes “business owners from across Ontario are telling me they need a pause to adjust to this year’s rapid increase. That is why our government promised to keep the hourly minimum wage at $14. And we are keeping that promise.”
In another announcement last week, Premier Ford had good news concerning fuel and heating costs. Following up on another election promise, he said a new program led by the private sectorwould provide natural gas to as many as 78 communities and 33,000 new households across all of rural and northern Ontario. He noted that cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax, together with the new natural gas program would save families about $80 per year, and businesses about $285 per year on gas bills.