Jan VanderHout, Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association:

"Minimum wage freeze gives growers time to adjust"

Ontario’s fruit, vegetable and greenhouse vegetable farmers welcome the recent changes made by the Ontario government concerning minimum wage and other workplace legislation.

"We appreciate the government’s recognition of the economic strain that many aspects of Bill 148, introduced by the previous provincial government, had put on the future of many of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farms", writes Jan VanderHout, a greenhouse vegetable grower near Hamilton and chair of the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association.

"As farmers, we care about our employees — they are the backbone of our farms, and we support fair wages and working conditions. We also care strongly about producing safe, healthy food and about keeping our businesses strong and competitive.

"The sudden and dramatic jump in hourly minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 in only a few months — an increase of 21 per cent — is one that many farm businesses need time to absorb and adjust to. Many fruit and vegetable farms are just now wrapping up their harvest and may not yet know what the impact of the higher wage rate will be on their businesses.

"That’s why we appreciate the decision by Premier Doug Ford’s government to hold the minimum wage at $14 until 2020, so that we can make the longer term planning decisions needed to adapt. The government’s further announcement to move to regular minimum wage increases tied to the cost of living will give us the predictability and stability we need to make our business decisions."

Read the full column at The London Free Press


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