On April 16, 2019, the recently formed United Conservative Party of Alberta (“UCP”) won a majority government in Alberta. This blog post provides a summary of key positions the UCP adopted during their campaign that will affect employers and the workplace.
The UCP committed to freezing minimum wage and intends on reducing minimum wage for youth under the age of 17 to $13.00/hour.
The UCP will appoint a Minimum Wage Expert Panel to analyze and publish all available economic data on the labour market impact of the NDP’s increases to minimum wage and assess whether hospitality industry workers who serve alcohol would generate higher net incomes (i.e. by working more hours), with a wage differential similar to those that exist in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
Prior to the NDP government’s changes to employment standards legislation, employers and employees could bank time off with pay, or lieu time, on a 1 for 1 basis instead of paying overtime pay. The NDP government modified overtime agreements to require lieu time be accrued on a 1.5x basis. The UCP intends on restoring the ability of workers and employers to bank lieu time on a 1 for 1 basis.
The UCP will return to a regular/irregular workday distinction to calculate holiday pay instead of providing employees with their average daily wage for all holidays. Additionally, the UCP is expected to re-implement a qualifying period of 30 days’ work in the previous 12 months.
Unpaid leaves of absence
A number of unpaid leaves of absences were introduced in 2018. The UCP has promised to retain all new forms of leave including: personal and family responsibility leave, bereavement leave, domestic violence leave, citizenship ceremony leave, critical illness of an adult family member, critical illness of a child, death or disappearance of a child leave.
The UCP indicated that they will:
- restore the mandatory secret ballot for union certification votes;
- reverse the ban on replacement workers in the public sector; and
- require the Labour Relations Board to provide legal support to all union workers.
The UCP intends on expanding recent amendments to the Labour Relations Code to further reduce duplication of proceedings in multiple forums and will retain new procedural powers given to the Labour Relations Board, Employment Standards and labour arbitrators, such as marshalling powers that allow the focusing of complaints.
Other changes impacting employers
The Farm Freedom and Safety Act will repeal and replace Bill 6 (the 2015 Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act). It will require employers to maintain workplace insurance for farm workers, but allow employers to choose whether to purchase insurance privately or from the WCB.
The Carbon Tax Repeal Act will repeal the carbon tax imposed by the NDPs on Carbon emissions. The UCP claims that the repeal will result in the creation of 6,000 new jobs by 2024 as it will be cheaper to move goods, heat homes and businesses without a carbon tax, resulting in businesses being able to hire more employees.
The Job Creation Tax Cut plans to reduce the provincial corporate tax rate from 12% to 8% over a period of 4 years and keep the small business tax rate at 2%. The UCP anticipates that this tax cut will create 55,000 new full-time jobs with a 12.5 billion growth in the economy.
The Red Tape Reduction Action Plan proposes to reduce regulatory and tax burden by 1/3 in order to reduce costs, accelerate approvals and create more jobs.
The proposed changes have not yet been passed into law so it remains to be seen which changes will ultimately be adopted and whether the UCP will be making further changes. We will provide updates as changes are implemented.
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