On­tario leg­is­la­ture re­sumes

Re­turn amid two Lib­eral tri­als and a fo­cus on labour and pot

The Observer (Sarnia) - - ONTARIO NEWS - AL­LI­SON JONES THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Ma­jor labour law changes, in­clud­ing a $15 min­i­mum wage, and mar­i­juana will be on the front burner as On­tario’s leg­is­la­ture re­turns from its sum­mer break on Mon­day.

But the busi­ness of leg­is­lat­ing also re­sumes at the same time as two Lib­eral tri­als get un­der­way and are sure to dom­i­nate On­tario pol­i­tics.

Both op­po­si­tion par­ties will likely try to keep re­mind­ing peo­ple of the Elec­tion Act bribery charges trial in Sud­bury re­lated to a 2015 by­elec­tion and mis­chief and the breach of trust trial in Toronto re­lated to the can­cel­la­tion of two gas plants be­fore the 2011 elec­tion.

Premier Kath­leen Wynne is set to tes­tify in the bribery trial in Sud­bury on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s a sad day for the peo­ple of On­tario that they will be see­ing their premier as a wit­ness on the stand in court on Wed­nes­day,” Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Pa­trick Brown said in a state­ment.

Wynne was asked last week if she was worried the tri­als would over­shadow her agenda.

“I re­ally don’t have con­trol over that,” she said. “My job is to im­ple­ment our plan to make sure that we do ev­ery­thing that we can to make this a fair place to live.”

Wynne and her team have been push­ing the fair­ness theme hard over the past months. Ex­pect that to con­tinue through the fall and all the way to the June 2018 elec­tion.

A key part of that is the Lib­eral govern­ment’s labour bill that would in­crease the min­i­mum wage to $15 an hour in 2019 as well as give equal pay for part-time work­ers, in­creased va­ca­tion en­ti­tle­ments and ex­panded per­sonal emer­gency leave.

Pub­lic hear­ings on the bill were held this sum­mer and it will go back be­fore the House with some tweaks for sec­ond read­ing, be­fore be­ing sent for a sec­ond round of com­mit­tee hear­ings.

Though the min­i­mum wage in­crease has proven pop­u­lar in govern­ment polling, busi­ness groups have been cam­paign­ing hard against the phase-in pe­riod, say­ing the in­crease — it is cur­rently set to rise to $11.60 in Oc­to­ber — is too much to ab­sorb that quickly.

The busi­ness groups say they’ll con­tinue to press for amend­ments to the bill, but they’re also ea­ger for the govern­ment to un­veil a promised pack­age of off­sets to help busi­nesses cope with in­creased costs the labour bill will bring.

That is set to be an­nounced in the fall and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Brad Duguid has said a break for small busi­nesses will come “likely on the tax side.”

The NDP will con­tinue to push for more changes to the labour bill, in­clud­ing more va­ca­tion days and paid sick days. Party Leader An­drea Hor­wath also in­di­cated in a state­ment she would turn part of her at­ten­tion to Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Pa­trick Brown — who is lead­ing in the polls.

“Pa­trick Brown won’t tell us what his plans are, but af­ter years of stand­ing with Con­ser­va­tives who cut like Stephen Harper, Mike Har­ris and Tim Hu­dak, we can ex­pect his pri­or­i­ties to be con­ser­va­tive cuts and con­ser­va­tive pri­va­ti­za­tion,” she wrote.

Leg­is­la­tion to con­trol the sale of recre­ational mar­i­juana is set to be tabled this fall, af­ter the Lib­eral govern­ment on Fri­day an­nounced its plan to sell pot to peo­ple 19 and older in as many as 150 stand­alone stores run by the prov­ince’s liquor con­trol board.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties and cannabis ac­tivists slammed the plan and are ex­pected to con­tinue to be vo­cal as the leg­is­la­tion is crafted and goes to pub­lic hear­ings.

Other poli­cies the govern­ment has pre­vi­ously said will come this fall in­clude: • The next long-term en­ergy plan • Po­lice over­sight leg­is­la­tion • Leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate two new

north­ern rid­ings • An up­dated Po­lice Ser­vices Act • Ticket sales and re­sales leg­is­la­tion • Leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate safe zones around abor­tion clin­ics

PETER POWER/THE

Mem­bers of the Lib­eral govern­ment look to­ward some newly un­cov­ered de­tails on the ceil­ing of the On­tario Leg­is­la­ture fol­low­ing the speech from the throne, open­ing the sec­ond ses­sion of the 41st Par­lia­ment of On­tario, in Toronto on Sept. 12, 2016. Ma­jor labour law changes, in­clud­ing a $15 min­i­mum wage, and mar­i­juana will be on the front burner as On­tario’s leg­is­la­ture re­turns from its sum­mer break on Mon­day.

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