Some Muskoka businesses feeling unintended effects of the Fair Workplaces Act
Local business owners may be feeling some unintended consequences of Bill 148. The legislation came into effect on January 1st, which raised the minimum wage to $14 this year and $15 next year. It makes it mandatory to pay seasonal and part-time workers the same as full-time employees for the same work, and entitles employees to three weeks vacation after five years with the same employer.
However, Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce General Manager, Norah Fountain, says it’s the scheduling changes that are affecting some Muskoka businesses. The legislation requires employers to pay their staff for three hours if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of their start time. Fountain gives food industry businesses as an example, saying some employers schedule their staff to fit the snowmobile season, and to make sure enough people are working to handle the increase in customers in winter weather. And then, the weather changes.
Fountain says seasonality is an issue, and it’s hard to roll out these kinds of rules and not take that into consideration. She says chamber members are in agreement that staff needs to make a living wage, but some support from the provincial government is needed.
Fountain says it’s also important to lower the rhetoric of what goes on. She says some businesses are getting attacked for the steps they’ve taken as a result of Bill 148, and no matter how you feel about fair wages, it might be unfair to paint everybody with the same brush.