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Alberta government puts labour laws under review

Sunday, March 19, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Alberta government puts labour laws under review

Labour Minister Christina Grey, announced on March 13, 2017, that the province is reviewing its labour laws. Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

The provincial government wants Albertans to weigh in on its labour laws.

The province’s employment standards code and labour relations code, which govern things like maternity and parental leave and the collective bargaining process, haven’t been significantly updated in nearly three decades.

The two codes were last given a serious overhaul around the time of the Calgary Olympics, said Labour Minister Christina Gray at a news conference at the Alberta legislature Monday.

Alberta has fallen behind the rest of the country, especially as workplace dynamics change and recent Supreme Court rulings and trade agreements force piecemeal updates to labour laws, said Gray.

Previous governments have conducted reviews of the laws, but they have mainly resulted in regulatory tweaks rather than broad legislative changes. For example, one headline-grabbing change in 2005 allowed children ages 12-14 to work in restaurants.

“Think of how much our workplaces, and indeed our world, have changed in the last three decades,” said Gray.

“Technology has changed, family dynamics have changed, the expectations around finding the proper work-life balance have changed,” she said.

The two codes under review cover labour matters like work hours, overtime and various kinds of employment leave. Gray said she had no timeline on when Albertans may see a bill to update the code.

At question period Monday, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the government’s record on consultations is not a good one, referencing the controversial farm safety bill that passed in 2015 and the minimum wage hike.

Jean said those consultations quickly became “come-and-tell-you sessions.”

The consultation period of 30 days isn’t long enough to really get a sense of what Albertans think, said Jean.

Albertans can weigh in on the labour code until April 18 either by filling in an online survey or by sending a written submission. Details can be found at work.alberta.ca/leg-review.