TORONTO - Ontario would see at least a 9% increase in manufacturing if the province followed the path of competing jurisdictions and implemented right-to-work legislation, a new Fraser Institute report concludes.
"Michigan and Indiana recently adopted worker choice laws and Ohio will likely follow," report co-author Jason Clemens said. "This puts increased pressure on Ontario's ability to compete especially in manufacturing."
The Implications of U.S. Worker Choice Laws for British Columbia and Ontario -- to be released Tuesday -- says the experience south of the border suggests Ontario could see an annual increase in economic output of $11.8 billion and receive a boost of almost 57,000 jobs if it followed suit.
Canadian workers can be required to join a union and pay full dues as a condition of employment.
In the United States, no one can be forced to join a union, but some states have implemented worker choice or right-to-work laws which allow employees to opt out of paying union dues.
The report's authors argue that given the option, workers are less likely to choose unions and that results in a lower rate of unionization and higher economic and employment growth.
In Ontario, the Progressive Conservatives have proposed in a discussion paper that no provincial legislation, regulation or collective agreement should require a worker to become a member of a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
The Ontario Liberals and New Democrats have not supported these ideas in the past, and union leaders have argued that right-to-work legislation forces down wages.
The authors of the report say the substantial boost in economic activities and jobs should engender a debate across the country about right-to-work laws.
"The evidence shows that workers and their families would have more job opportunities if the provincial government moved towards some form of worker choice policies," Niels Veldhuis, the report co-author and Fraser Institute president, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) will counter with its own report Tuesday and said that it shows "the devastating impact that American-style, anti-worker laws would have on the Ontario economy."
The report, entitled Working for Less: The Coming Threat to Union Security in Ontario, will also illustrate "the hidden agenda of Hudak's Conservatives, the Fraser Institute and other proponents of a U.S.-style attack on labour rights in Canada," the OFL said in a statement issued Monday.
The OFL said it's releasing the paper to coincide with the Fraser Institute report that "promises to call for limitations on workers' rights and the weakening union protection in Canada."