Businesses caution against immediate move to $10 minimum wage

    TORONTO, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - An immediate increase in the minimum wage to $10
per hour would hit some sectors harder than others, causing a majority of
members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to register opposition to the idea
in a recent survey.
    "Businesses in Ontario are not just concerned about the bottom line,"
explains Len Crispino, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
"While we do not want our province to prosper on the backs of cheap labour we
must find the right balance in order to protect Ontario's position in a
competitive global marketplace."
    While only a small majority of the 2124 respondents were opposed to an
immediate increase in the minimum wage to $10, business owners in areas such
as agriculture, retail, restaurant and food services, and tourism and
hospitality indicated that this sudden adjustment would have a significant
negative effect on their businesses.
    The Ontario Chamber of Commerce had previously expressed support for the
gradual increase in minimum wage. "A gradual increase is simply prudent as it
allows businesses to adjust to increased labour costs and plan their budgets
accordingly," adds Crispino. "We would continue to advocate that any increases
maintain this measured approach."
    Medium sized companies (25- 250 employees) have expressed stronger
opposition than any other group to the increase in the minimum wage to $10.
Within this group, companies employing less than 50 employees have shown the
greatest disagreement (64%) to an immediate increase to $10, and appear to be
most vulnerable to wage increases. Half of these companies indicated that the
increase in minimum wage will negatively affect their business.
    Social and ethical concerns about low-wage Ontarians appear to be the
primary considerations for those supporting the increase, echoing previous
support by Ontario Chamber members for policies addressing the needs of lower
income Ontarians and reducing the tax burden on the poor.
    The survey was conducted from January 25 to January 29, 2007. 2124
respondents from across Ontario participated.

    The OCC represents over 57,000 businesses through 160 local Chambers of
Commerce and Boards of Trade, and has been Ontario's business advocate since
1911. Its advocacy and policy initiatives focus on six areas key to the
economic well-being of the province: health; education; energy; finance &
taxation; transportation & infrastructure; and border issues.

For further information:

For further information: Amy Terrill, Director Media Relations and
Communications, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, W: (416) 482-5222, ext. 241, C:
(416) 605-8205

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