Freeze minimum wage, small businesses tell the Ontario Government

    TORONTO, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - In an open letter to Ontario Labour Minister
Peter Fonseca today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is
calling on the provincial government to cancel the upcoming (March 31)
increase in the minimum wage, citing the deteriorating state of the economy.
    "Already struggling to weather the current economic slowdown, the last
thing small companies need is another increase in the cost of doing business,"
said CFIB's Ontario Director Satinder Chera. "In the last quarter of 2008,
CFIB's Business Barometer, which reflects how well business owners expect
their own firms to perform over the next 12 months, dropped to its lowest
level in recent memory."
    Already at $8.75, Ontario has one of the highest minimum wages in Canada
- second only to Nunavut. Since 2004, the provincial government has increased
the minimum wage by 28 per cent, and yet advocates for hiking the wage are
calling for even bigger increases than are currently planned. Far from helping
the working poor, it's hurting the very people who are in a position to help.
    "Let's remember that small- and medium sized employers not only employ
more than half of all working Ontarians, but they also do whatever they can to
hold onto their valued employees, even if it means a cut in their own pay,"
added Chera. "At a time when our economic future looks shaky, it seems rather
foolish to bite the hand that's struggling to feed you."
    Instead, CFIB is calling on the government to focus its efforts on
helping people upgrade their skills to qualify for better-paying positions.
"Also, if the government is serious about wanting to improve the standard of
living for those earning the lowest wages, they could use the upcoming
provincial budget to increase the amount that workers can earn tax free.
Letting people keep more of their money would be much more effective and
wouldn't compromise small business' ability to grow and create jobs,"
concluded Chera.

For further information:

For further information: please contact Adam Miller or Meghan Carrington
at (416) 222-8022. To view a copy of the open letter, visit

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