Leg­is­la­ture re­sumes amid two tri­als

Truro Daily News - - CANADA - By Al­li­son Jones

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 to­day.

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 part­time 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.

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