Wednesday December 11, 2019
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Good Riddance

laurie scott

Ontario PC Labour Minister Laurie Scott

This past week, a number of media spokespeople expressed shock – shock! –  that the Ford government planned to get rid of the labour relations and employment standards Bill 148, introduced by the previous Liberal government as a big thank-you to the unions who had propped up the Liberal government for so very long, at the expense of all other Ontarians. Leading up to the election earlier this year, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had frequently expressed their opposition to the restrictive and punitive contents of Bill 148, so why it should come as a surprise to anyone paying attention that they wanted to reverse it is a mystery.

Simply put, Bill 148 was a completely imbalanced piece of legislation which read like a collective bargaining agreement written by the unions. At the time of its introduction, the Liberals claimed to have consulted widely, yet in reality they totally ignored the input of all of the business groups involved and only listened to labour.  Although the massive minimum wage hikes got the most attention in the media when the Bill was publicized, the many other provisions of the legislation were arguably even more harmful.  Some of these provisions included permitting employees to take much more time off work with zero documentation that it was needed, extending benefits normally accorded to full-time employees to part-time employees, with some ridiculous outcomes such as a part-time employee working over a holiday period receiving two paid days off for working a couple of shifts, among many other foolish provisions. Bill 148 also made unionization in Ontario even easier than it already was by such measures as requiring employers to provide all personal employee information to a union seeking to unionize a workplace. If anyone else ever made such a request, it would be deemed a violation of the employee’s right to privacy.  The same rules should apply to everyone, including unions.  Bill 148, which only came into effect at the beginning of 2018, should be completely reversed for the benefit of all Ontarians who favour a robust business climate that generates well-paying jobs and attracts business investment.

One other labour-related issue that has not received anywhere near the attention it deserves is the Ontario College of Trades.  Since its creation in October 2009, the main accomplishment of the College has been to sharply increase fees for a wide range of tradespersons in the province, and to require people who have plied their trade successfully for decades without incident to pay for unnecessary training and added certifications. It has turned out to be a multi-million dollar tax grab which costs tradespeople, and the rest of us who employ them, dearly.   It is also well-known that the so-called inspectors from the College regularly go to worksites ostensibly to check on the credentials of the workers that are present, but with the actual agenda of promoting unionization of those worksites.  The College of Trades is truly a Trojan Horse attempting to promote unionization of businesses in a subversive, dishonest way.   Since there was no crisis in the trades prior to the existence of the College, with issues being satisfactorily dealt with in existing government bureaucracies, the College is a costly solution to a non-existent problem.

It is welcome news that the Ontario government plans to dismantle Bill 148, which will lead to a more balanced, pro-growth environment in the province and significantly reduce red tape for businesses.  But if the government  truly wants to live up to its claim that Ontario is open for business once again, it must also get rid of Bill 148’s evil twin, the Ontario College of Trades.


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