Good morning subscribers and happy New Year! January has us all looking at our bank statements after holiday spending – which kind of makes you wonder what the bigger picture of the Ontario economy looks like. This week, we’re turning our attention to policies and their impact on the Ontario economy, from the minimum wage increase that took effect on January 1st to new decisions supporting main street businesses.
- The Ontario government has committed $500 million to supporting small businesses over the next three years, including $40 million going towards supporting small businesses that populate the main streets of Ontario cities and towns. In the past, most government initiatives supporting small businesses have largely focused on technology-based start-ups rather than “main street businesses.” Steven Tavone discusses the value of main street businesses, like your favourite family-owned restaurant or the mom-and-pop shop on the corner, and why they also deserve government support [Tavone/PPGR].
- Nuclear power literally fuels the Ontario economy: more than half of the electricity needs of Ontario households and businesses is met by this energy source. But the nuclear waste produced creates a major policy headache. Nuclear waste emits radiation that can lead to cancer, chronic disease, and death, which makes safe waste disposal crucial. Ian T.D. Thomson discusses how Canada, Finland, and other countries are disposing radioactive used fuel while accounting for environmental and budgetary constraints [Thomson/PPGR].
- Last May, Kathleen Wynne announced that Ontario would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019. The first phase of this policy came into effect last week, as the minimum wage increased from $11.40 per hour to $14 on January 1st. Certain Tim Hortons franchise owners have responded by cutting paid breaks and reducing employees’ benefits. These actions have prompted heated debate on whether the Ontario government has adequately prepared for the impacts that the wage hike is anticipated to have on small businesses [Kassam/The Guardian].
- Experts warn of a massive disruption coming to the job market: the disappearance of mid-level white-collar and manufacturing jobs, largely due to new technologies like automation and artificial intelligence. But the discussion is only beginning in the private and public sectors on how best to respond to these changes. Rethinking the school curriculum, employee training, and investments in HR technology are all examples of actions that should be taken to ensure no one is left behind in Ontario’s changing economy [Armstrong/Globe and Mail].
We hope these insightful articles have added a little colour to a grey January day. The next edition of the brief will be making its way to your inboxes on January 17th.