Ontario ready to announce hike in minimum wage and update its labour

TORONTO — The benefits of Ontario’s renewed economic growth are not shared evenly across the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday as she planned to announce a raise to minimum wage as well as much anticipated changes to labour laws.Wynne and Labour Minister Kevin Flynn are scheduled to make the announcements Tuesday morning.“Now that we have an economy that really is doing so well, and is leading, we can now distribute that well-being a bit better,” she told The Canadian Press in an interview. “I just came back from (Ontario’s) northeast, and there are parts of the province and there are groups within the population who just are not feeling the benefit of the economy doing well.”Wynne would not confirm if her government is planning to raise the minimum wage — which is currently $11.40 an hour and adjusted for inflation — to $15, as labour groups have been calling for.One-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable amid fewer union jobs, technology shift: reportMajority support Ontario’s basic income plan, but many find $17,000 not enough: pollThe changes to provincial labour laws come in response to a government-commissioned report — released last week — that made 173 recommendations aimed at creating better workplaces with decent working conditions.The report concluded that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs, among other factors, have left approximately one-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable.Wynne said the goal is to deal with the precarious nature of modern work, which she defines as more short-term contracts, more part-time jobs, and less predictable scheduling. She said workers will feel a change in their everyday lives once the labour law changes have been made.“They’ll feel more certain and they’ll feel less anxious because they’ll have a little bit more predictability in their lives, and that has a ripple effect into the lives of their families,” she said.Business groups in the province, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, have expressed concerns about the cost to business of the potential labour law changes and a higher minimum wage. They have called on the Liberal government not to proceed without first studying the economic impact of the changes recommended in the report.Wynne said her government will work with the business communities on measuring the impact of the changes.“We want our businesses to be competitive,” she said. “But we also know that if people are better able to look after their families, or if people are able to have a decent job, that’s good for communities and that’s good for business.”The Canadian Press read more

Wine Tasting Challenge celebrates 10th anniversary

Nearly 300 amateur and professional wine lovers put their palates to the test April 14 at the 10th annual Wine Tasting Challenge held at the prestigious Liberty Grand in Toronto.Nearly 300 amateur and professional wine lovers put their palates to the test April 14 at the 10th annual Wine Tasting Challenge held at the prestigious Liberty Grand in Toronto.The event is a blind tasting that aims to bring together the world’s best wine enthusiasts to compete at the highest level. It offers more than $100,000 in prizes in the professional, amateur, VQA and spirit categories. Participants can win cash, travel packages and VQA and international wine and spirit baskets.Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is an associate partner of the event, and leads the organization of the challenge which aims to highlight Canada’s best and brightest in wine and spirit knowledge.“Over the last 10 years, the challenge has evolved into the world’s largest wine tasting competition,” said Barb Tatarnic, the challenge’s director and auditor and CCOVI’s manager of continuing education and outreach. “CCOVI is extremely proud to be the challenge’s presenting and auditing partner.”After the competition, a ceremony recognized the top finishers from the previous challenge, including 2012 grand award winner Nelson Abreu.“The Wine Tasting Challenge is the only event that manages to attract so many people from our community together to compete and raise our game in a friendly, sportive environment,” Abreu said.The challenge also presented two awards at this year’s ceremony. The distinguished sponsor award was presented to Huff Estate Winery in gratitude of its longstanding support of the challenge.The Donald Ziraldo Award – acknowledging innovation, development and inspiration in the food and wine industry – was presented by Ziraldo to brothers Paul, Matthew and Daniel Speck of Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery.“The Speck boys and their commitment to sustainability exemplify the hard work that creates success in our industry,” Ziraldo said.The complete list of award winners can be found on the challenge’s website.Results from this year’s competition will be available May 15. read more