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Ont. growers praise minimum wage freeze

Ont. growers praise minimum wage freeze

Provincial government halts minimum wage at $14 until 2020 under Bill 148

Staff Writer
Ontario’s minimum wage will be maintained at $14 per hour until 2020, the provincial government announced on Tuesday.
Under the former Liberal government, minimum wage would have reached $15/hour by January. So, this price freeze comes as good news to many ag industry members. 
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomes Bill 148 amendments, a Wednesday release said. Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, included updates to minimum wage, vacation time calculations and personal emergency leave. 
Fruit and vegetable producers in the province worried about the implications of the new legislation. Labour expenses contribute significantly to their cost of production and competitiveness in export markets. 
The dramatic increase in hourly wages from $11.60/hour to $14 in January 2018 “was a significant blow to the competitiveness of the sector, which competes with low-cost imported produce,” the release said. 
The increase in minimum wage resulted in a $111 million cost per year in Ontario’s fresh produce sector. 
Holding minimum wage at $14/hour will have an impact for industry members, Dan Howell of Brantview Apples, told today. 
“That one dollar … really does make a difference, especially because a lot of farmers don’t have the (same) support as other communities or businesses,” he said.
“Stalling it at $14 really does help farmers,” Howell added.  
The original Bill 148 put jobs and domestic food security at risk, Jan VanderHout, chair of the OFVGA board of directors, said in the release.
“I know fruit and vegetable farmers are looking forward to a return to predictable labour policy and reasonable minimum wage increases tied to the consumer price index,” he said in the release. 
Baloncici/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo


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