It's time to leave small business alone
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | October 5 2017|
One local business has indeed been baked and battered by the provincial and federal government’s nonsensical approach to reform.
The owners of the popular Haliburton eatery, Baked & Battered, announced on their Facebook page Sept. 25 that they’re closing for the winter.
They specifically alluded to Ontario’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act in the post. They didn’t talk about the federal government’s plan to eliminate or restrict how some business owners save on taxes, but it may well have factored into their decision as well.
Owners Craig Gordon and Colby Marcellus spoke out publicly about the provincial changes when they wrote a letter to the editor of The Highlander earlier this year. They said the coming $15-an-hour minimum wage increase was going to impact their business.
It comes to a place where the seasonal nature of business is a real challenge. We boom during the summer, and many bust during the winter.
The owners said, as a start-up, in a century old building with lots of expenses and maintenance, steadily increasing supply costs and a significant jump in the minimum wage about to come about, they’re finding that they need to take action to make sure the business remains solid and healthy so that they can continue on as a Haliburton destination we can all be proud of.
They’ve said their four-and-a-half month closure will help other Haliburton restaurants who struggle in winter. There’ll be less competition. As a display of business camaraderie, McKecks said it will hire any Baked & Battered staff who are looking for work.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals have to take a hit on this one. When her party moved on sweeping labour reforms, the business community warned it would be badly hurt, and it has been. Some businesses said they would be forced to close altogether. In the case of Baked & Battered, thankfully, it’s only a winter break. Others said they will have no choice but to raise their prices to deal with the first phase of the minimum wage hike, which comes into effect this January. We’ll soon see if those predictions come true.
And, now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have appeared to jump on the small business-bashing bandwagon. In short, the feds’ plan is to eliminate or restrict how some business owners save on taxes. What’s irksome about this is small business in Haliburton county isn’t getting rich, and they’re hardly squirrelling away money to dodge the tax man. The federal government has time to turn the clock back on these proposed changes and, simply put, it must.
As for the province’s Bill 148, the Wynne government must take note of CANCEA’s peerreviewed analysis that came out last week. It says if the minimum wage increase was implemented over five years, instead of the next 15 months, jobs at risk would decrease by 74 per cent in the first two years.
The interim report released this past August found that 190 jobs would be at risk in Haliburton County. Slashing that by 74 per cent could mean 140 fewer jobs at risk. While that still leaves 50 jobs on shaky ground, it’s better than nearly 200.
As other businesses begin to announce seasonal closures, complete closures and higher prices, we dearly hope the premier is paying attention.
It’s time to leave small business alone.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.