Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Nov. 2 that signs declaring Ontario is “open for business” will be installed at border crossings across the province.
With a price tag of $106,700, Ford’s spokesman Simon Jeffries said the signs are a “necessary cost” to project to the world that Ontario is business-friendly.
The announcement prompted Ontarians to perform a cost-benefit analysis of their own, some wondering when the province was ever closed and whether the signs are worth the cost, and others celebrating the signs as a solid investment and symbol of what Ford claims will be a new era of economic prosperity.
Making Ontario Open for Business Act
The unveiling of the first sign roughly coincides with the tabling of the government’s proposed Making Ontario Open for Business Act.
If passed, Bill 47 will cancel the previous government’s planned $15 minimum wage, freezing the wage at $14 until at least 2020. It also aims to cancel two guaranteed paid sick days for all Ontario workers.
With the Act already through its first reading, the Official Opposition NDP and labour groups are warning it will strip Ontario workers of basic protections guaranteed by the former government’s legislation, including equal pay for equal work, emergency leave days and the right to turn down last-minute shift changes.
The Tories argue the bill will cut through “job-killing regulations” and modernize Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system. During the unveiling of the first sign at Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia, Ont., Ford touted the Act and the signs as components of a two-part plan to create jobs and bring investment into Ontario.
Some business owners and entrepreneurs have taken to social media to say the signs and proposed legislation give them a sense of hope for the future of their businesses. Others who support the signs argue that they are a better investment of tax dollars than previous governments’ initiatives.
Those who oppose the signs argue that a government so concerned with finding cost savings can’t afford to spend $106,000 on symbolic signs. Others doubt the signs will have any impact on investment in the province. Some have called the signs tone deaf and self-serving.