Small businesses were “blindsided” by the Ontario government’s decision to hike the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2019, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says.

“You’ve got a small business and they don’t have the wiggle room to absorb more direct business costs,” Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs, said. “Higher CPP, higher EI, hydro, cap and trade, minimum wage already being increased at the rate of inflation.

“What is the last straw? How much more can small businesses shoulder?” she said.

Kwiecinski said her group had been led to believe that discussion in the Changing Workplaces Review would not include the minimum wage issue.

As for the government’s motivation, the CFIB is a non-partisan organization so “people will connect the dots as they see fit,” she said.

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