Bill 148 may threaten rural Ontario
Legislation could lead to large municipal budget increases
By Kaitlynn Anderson
Municipalities across the province are concerned about how Bill 148 – or, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 – could impact their budgets and, ultimately, their taxpayers.
For example, there is concern about how the legislation will affect fire departments, as the Bill requires all employees to be paid the same wage as full-time staff performing the same duties.
So, volunteer firefighters must be paid equally to regular firefighters.
This adjustment would require municipalities to pay the volunteers to be on call for at least three hours a day, “regardless of whether a fire is actually taking place,” according to a Global News article released earlier this month.
“That alone will cost our fire department $1.3 million per year,” Gary McNamara, mayor of Tecumseh, said in a Windsor Star article last month.
And this change could affect taxpayers.
“This (budget increase) will take money away from infrastructure improvements that are desperately needed,” said McNamara. “We fight deficits every year. With this, we either reduce services or raise taxes.”
Municipalities will also be required to adjust the way other standby workers — such as public works employees responsible for clearing snow — are paid, he added.
In an effort to reduce the impact the legislation may have, the Tecumseh town council passed a request to ask the provincial government for an exemption to the Act.
“We need changes to the legislation, if (possible),” McNamara said. “Something needs to be done on their end to give us some relief.”
Farms.com has reached out to multiple municipalities across Ontario for further comment on how Bill 148 could impact the rural communities.
Photo: Devon Yu / iStock / Getty Images Plus