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Differing opinions voiced at Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs hearing in North Bay

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North Bay was the most recent site for hearings over the provincial government’s fair workplaces, better jobs act. The main crux of the act is the plans to raise the minimum wage, but other issues like guaranteeing part-time work and other issues were also brought up. The public meeting held on Tuesday saw a lot of agreement that Ontario’s minimum wage should increase, but the time frame is what drew some discussion.

Business sector leaders, like local Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Peter Chirico, asked that the province slow down the speed with which it’s travelling to get to the proposed hike of $15 an hour. Chirico says a 32 per cent increase in just 18 months is too fast, adding businesses simply can’t afford to absorb the added costs over such a short period. When the announcement was first made, Chirico indicated he’d been approached by local businesses about the detrimental impact the move was going to have on them. He reaffirmed those issues yesterday, saying many local business have reported they will be negatively affected by the minimum wage hike. Chirico also added some warned of possibly closing, cutting jobs, and reducing hours for employment while investing in automation.

North Bay and District Labour Council President Henri Giroux also made a presentation on behalf of workers. Giroux says one of the concerns he has is the use of replacement workers during strikes or lockouts. Giroux says instead of using replacement workers, employers should negotiate to find an agreement that can end any dispute. He also wants to see improvements in paid leave for some employees. Giroux finished by saying people will benefit overall from a higher minimum wage, and it should include as many workers as possible.

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