Greenhouse operators vowing to fight Queen’s Park over minimum wage hike

According to CBC News; By Dale Molnar: We’ve got to make some noise. We’re going to try and rally. We’re going to try and stop it.

Greenhouse growers are vowing to put up a fight over Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plan to hike the minimum wage.

The operators say the province’s proposal to increase the wage to $15 an hour will kill their businesses.

A higher minimum wage will only add to the financial constraints already being caused by Ontario’s cap-and-trade tax and high electricity bills, said Gerry Mastronardi, who owns TG and G Mastronardi Produce in Leamington.

“The smaller producers are paying for all these costs that we have no control over,” he told CBC News. “You can charge $20 for minimum wage. If there’s no companies in Ontario, who is going to pay it?”

Jamie Diniro of Diniro Farms Inc. estimates his payroll will cost an extra $300,000 when the wage goes up to $15 per hour.

“I think the minimum wage hike will kill small business and small agriculture in the Leamington area and all over Ontario,” said Diniro, who has 42 employees in his 16-acre operation on Mersea Road 5.

“We’ve got to make some noise,” said Diniro. “We’re going to try and rally. We’re going to try and stop it.”

He added the growers hope to invite Wynne down to Leamington to meet with them and other small businesses to hear their concerns.

“I’m not saying people can’t make a decent wage, we will still give you a raise but a 30 per cent raise over a year and a half is just too much,” Diniro said.

Jamie Diniro

Jamie Diniro estimates his payroll at Diniro Farms will skyrocket after the wage jumps to $15 an hour. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The operators say they can’t raise the prices of the produce because they won’t be able to compete with inexpensive Mexican imports.

Mastronardi says the only way he’s been able to remain competitive is by increasing production through automation at his similar size operation.

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