Frank Klees

Press Release

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For Immediate Release                                                                               October 8, 2008


KLEES To Premier:  Help, Don’t Hurt, Ontario Businesses


(Queen’s Park) The following is the transcript of the special debate on the regulatory burden on Ontario businesses by Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees in the Legislature yesterday:

“I requested this special debate on the challenges faced by small and medium-sized businesses because I'm concerned that the McGuinty government is failing this important sector in our province. I see it as my responsibility to ensure that the Premier and his ministers are fully informed of the challenges business owners are facing daily to keep their businesses operating and to point out how, all too often, this government is frustrating the best efforts of hard-working business owners to keep their doors open and the jobs that they've created in their community.

“Yesterday, I asked the Premier a very specific question. I reminded him of his pre-election commitment to small and medium-sized employers that he would improve the inspection and audit processes to which businesses are subject in this province. In fact, the Premier reconfirmed that commitment in the 2008 Ontario budget, which stated, "Ontario's goal is to lead all Canadian jurisdictions in efforts to measure and reduce the regulatory burden."

“I pointed out to the Premier that given the reports from business owners from across the province that regulatory burdens are increasing, not decreasing, has in fact the Premier forgotten his commitment? But rather than answering the question, the Premier referred it to the Minister of Labour, who proceeded into a rant about how I and my party want to "water down legislation and regulations when it comes to workplace ... safety." He went on to say that I am "not on the side of workers" and that I don't "want to protect workers."

“Speaker, the minister missed the point completely, and when I clarified that what I was referring to was the regulatory burden and the heavy-handed enforcement that government agencies are strangling businesses with, the best the minister could do was to pronounce that labour relations have never been better. And the Hansard record of his reply will show that it's clear the minister fully misunderstood or simply does not understand that he has serious issues on his hands here in the province of Ontario.

“That's why we're here now, because I want to give the Premier and his minister the same information I'm receiving daily from hard-working business owners. It's my hope that the Premier will direct his ministers to the necessary steps to refocus the government agencies and their front-line staff to do what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling for, namely, to get all of the enforcement staff in government departments and agencies into a helping rather than hindering mode in this province.

“I'm not asking government to compromise the health or safety of employees, and I'm not asking for a watering down of legislation or compliance, and neither are the business owners for whom I'm advocating today. I am asking for civility and respect. I'm asking that enforcement staff be redeployed to help business owners, by working with them, to understand the rules of engagement, to help them come into compliance rather than threaten them, and apply reasonableness and common sense in circumstances, especially in circumstances of first-time, innocent non-compliance with government regulation.

“Surely this is not an unreasonable request, but let me put on the record what is happening with increasing frequency. The fact is that business owners in this province are constantly, on a daily basis, being harassed by people who should be "civil" servants, who should in fact be working with businesses in this province to help them better understand, and if they are not in compliance, to work with them to come into compliance-not to threaten, not to issue fine after fine and to conduct themselves in such a way that is, quite frankly, offensive to hard-working people in this province.

“There are numerous examples of this behaviour. Judith Andrew of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business confirms that her organization has a banker's box that is full of signed faxes that make that same point.

“I trust that the government will receive this appeal in the spirit in which it is brought forward: simply to make the government aware that there are serious problems on the front lines of government service, and that steps must be taken to ensure that civility and respect are the principles that guide our front-line civil servants in this province.”  



Frank Klees, MPP


416 509 8999                                                                                                             


Video available on my website, “Listen in at Queen’s Park”: 

MPP Raises Local Business Concerns at Queen's Park