Earlier this week, the Brampton Board of Trade invited Ontario PC Party Leader, Patrick Brown and Brampton-South Candidate Prabmeet Sarkaria to meet with a small group of employers to discuss the challenges and opportunities they are currently facing. Employers representing a cross-section of our regional economy and who collectively employ more than 16,000 covered topics such as transit and transportation, talent and workplace reform, health care, innovation, competitiveness, regulatory burden and trade.
Some of the key issues businesses discussed with Mr. Brown were:
- The need for better inter-regional connectivity and easier movement of goods and people.
- The need for a speedier decision on the GTA West Highway - the expert panel that was appointed to study the feasibility of the project has not reported in some time and businesses are anxious to learn of the project's future.
- Businesses are concerned that the regulatory burden will continue to grow and ultimately hinder them from staying competitive at the national and international level.
- With Ontario's high WSIB premiums (Second highest in the country) the impending minimum wage increase, high electricity costs and cap and trade costs, Ontario is becoming a less viable place for businesses to grow and remain competitive/profitable.
- Businesses also expressed their concern over the skills gap that currently exists. They face challenges finding the proper talent because skills upon graduation do not match the skills they need for their businesses.
- Bill 148 was a big topic of conversation. Some businesses are concerned about the rapid implementation of the impending legislation, most notably the $15 minimum wage increase that is slated to be implemented in an 18-month window. Businesses are saying that the hike is too much too soon and they require more time to plan and execute in order to mitigate adverse effects.
- Some of the other aspects of Bill 148, including unpaid time off, scheduling and changes to how workers unionize were also identified as concerns.