Ontario investigates businesses allegedly breaking new labour laws

January 8, 2018
Article Source

Ontario is investigating businesses that are alleged to be illegally going after employees in order to cope with a minimum wage hike, the labour minister said Monday.

The province's minimum wage increased on Jan. 1 from $11.60 an hour to $14 as part of sweeping labour reforms from the Liberal government, including increased personal emergency days and paid vacation time.

Before the changes came into effect, business groups warned that the increase was too quick for small businesses in particular to absorb the added costs. In the first week since the new wage kicked in, stories have emerged of some businesses implementing new rules to offset those expenses.

Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said the vast majority are complying with the legislation, but some business owners have been taking the increased pressure out on their workers, which both he and Premier Kathleen Wynne call "bullying."

"The minimum wage, I don't believe, ever in history has been raised without the business community raising a fuss or concerns," he said. "For some businesses to take it out on their workers, however, is completely unacceptable and it's simply wrong. It's the act of bullies that has no place in this province. I really hope that the businesses that have acted in this manner decide on sober second thought to reverse the decisions they've made."

A pair of eastern Ontario Tim Hortons franchisees — who happen to be the children of the company's billionaire co-founders — have made headlines for cutting paid breaks and forcing their workers to cover a bigger share of their benefits.

Flynn said that goes against the spirit, though not the letter, of the law, but another story about an east Toronto Tim Hortons franchise allegedly banning workers from keeping tips clearly contravenes the legislation.

"In some cases it appears (businesses) have gone to the point of doing things that are alleged to be illegal," Flynn said. "We're investigating these charges. The information that came out of Scarborough on the tips, where employees were ... alleged to have been asked to put their tips into the till, that clearly contravenes the legislation. So it's not just mean spirited, it's also illegal."

Read more: Ontario investigates businesses allegedly breaking new labour laws