PC leader Patrick Brown slams 'rapid' plan to introduce $15 minimum wage

While Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown says he'd like to see the province eventually adopt a $15 minimum wage, he says the current plan will roll out too quickly, putting Ontario business owners at risk.

Liberals want to raise minimum wage to $15 by Jan. 1, 2019

Despite his objections, Patrick Brown said he will evaluate the legislation before determining his vote. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown says the Wynne government's plan to introduce a $15 minimum wage is happening too quickly, with little regard for its potential impact on business owners.

"My concern is the speed that we're going about this, the fact that there is no cost-benefit analysis," Brown told reporters on Wednesday at Queen's Park.

​The plan would lift the minimum wage to $14 an hour by Jan.1, 2018 before reaching a full $15 an hour by 2019.

Brown said that "rapid" jump from the current rate of $11.40 may put Ontario businesses at a competitive disadvantage around the region.

"If you look at all the adjacent jurisdictions — Quebec, Manitoba, Michigan, Ohio, New York, those within the regional zone that we compete with — they're all eight, nine, 10, 11 dollars," he said, though New York is set to introduce a $15 US minimum wage in 2021.

"I'm not sure that's giving proper notice to our job creators," Brown said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) had already stated similar concerns.

"These sweeping changes will tip our economic balance in a profoundly negative way," wrote Richard Koroscil, an OCC board member after the plan was first announced.

While Brown roundly criticized the plan, he did not confirm if he would vote for or against the legislation until he has a chance to more thoroughly evaluate the plan. The legislation was introduced at Queen's Park on Thursday. 

He also did not object to the prospect of raising the minimum wage more gradually.

"I think everyone wants to get to a $15 minimum wage, but it's the pace," Brown said.