Norm Miller says they’re trying to bring good jobs to the province.

That’s what’s behind the Ontario government’s decision to scrap large parts of the former Liberal government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

The Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP says the new Making Ontario Open for Business Act, which was introduced to the legislature yesterday, involves reducing red tape and regulation on businesses in the province.

“We have some 380,000 regulatory requirements, about double what British Columbia has for example.  It’s also about fixing the apprenticeship and skilled trade system in Ontario which I think is going to be a really important move towards providing opportunity for young people to be able to get a trade and get a good job.  That also involves the orderly shutdown of the College of Trades which has been making it very difficult for people to become apprentices.”

Among the changes the Making Ontario Open for Business Act is making are halting the increase in the minimum wage, replacing the current personal emergency leave rules, and axing the requirement that part-time and full-time employees be paid the same amount for the same work.

When it comes to the College of Trades, Miller says just about any business he goes to in Parry Sound-Muskoka is having difficulty finding skilled people. “This College of Trades just made it way harder and more complicated to get a position as an apprenticeship and get the skills needed to get a good job and fill that need.”

The College of Trades opened in 2013 and added mandatory membership in the organization for a number of jobs as well as yearly membership fees. On top of winding that system down, the PC government is also introducing a one-to-one journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio for every trade which ratios apply, replacing the current three-to-one. That means a business will only need one journeyperson to hire on an apprentice, opening the doors to more job opportunities.

On the minimum wage front, the new act freezes the rate at $14 an hour until 2020 at which point increases will be tied to inflation.  It was set to go up to $15. In defending this move, Miller says he believes halting the increase will benefit people by creating more jobs.

“They’ll have a job, which is probably the best way it benefits. And it sets the stage to create good-paying jobs across the province. We’ve been on a negative trajectory by lots of different measurements in the province in the last number of years.”

He added that he believes businesses weren’t given enough time to adjust to the minimum wage increases.

“Businesses need some sort of stability to be able to provide employment opportunities.  There was a pretty big and sudden increase of 21 per cent, So we’re going to slow that for a bit and then tie the minimum wage increase to inflation. But really what we’re trying to do is create jobs that pay far more than minimum wage and create jobs all across the province and that’s what these changes will do.”