Modernize Labour Laws to Compete for Resource Jobs: Miller
26 July 2012
“Ontario… could benefit further from what’s going on out West, he said. Instead of blaming the high value of the Canadian dollar and Alberta’s oil sector for the woes in manufacturing… Carney noted that one in 12 suppliers to the oil sands is based in Ontario.”
- The Toronto Sun on Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, July 18, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – With “a national energy strategy” in the spotlight at the Council of the Federation in Halifax, Ontario needs a strategy of its own to capitalize on growing opportunities for manufacturers in the development of Alberta’s oil sands, PC Northern Development and Mines Critic Norm Miller said today.
“Last week, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney noted the tremendous potential for our manufacturing sector as the oil sands project proceeds,” Miller said. “But expanded opportunities for hard-pressed manufacturers won’t automatically drop into Ontario’s lap – we will need to compete with neighbouring jurisdictions for the work.”
Miller noted that Ontario companies currently supply the oil sands project with everything from pipe and steel and industrial brushes, to embossing equipment and heat treating, blasting and coating services – to name only a few.
It’s another reason for Ontario to keep pace with rival industrial economies – including 23 U.S. States – by modernizing its workplace rules and labour laws as proposed in Tim Hudak’s Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets white paper, Miller said.
“We live in an age when investment crosses borders at the push of a button,” Miller said. “This is also an era when job creators look for the most attractive business and regulatory environments – and the jobs follow,” he added, citing U.S. data showing five million Americans have migrated to states that have adopted versions of the Paths to Prosperity labour market reforms.
The PC paper proposes action in four key areas: giving the individual worker a choice on becoming or remaining a union member; making union leaders more accountable to unionized employees; modernizing tendering rules to open government work to private sector competition; and reforming Ontario’s workplace agencies for a more flexible workforce and job creation.
“These are controversial ideas,” Miller said. But under the status quo, nearly 600,000 Ontarians are unemployed. We’ve lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs while adding 300,000 bureaucratic government jobs at the same time. And wage growth is dead last among all provinces, he noted.
“We need to seize every opportunity to strengthen our devastated manufacturing sector – and the Alberta oil sands project is a big one. But we must keep pace with other jurisdictions in creating the most competitive climate for business, investment and job creation anywhere.
“Modernizing our workplace rules and labour laws is a good place to start.”