Bill 2: An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business

This April, Alberta held its 30th general election. In its platform, the United Conservative Party (“UCP”) promised to “bring balance back to Alberta’s labour laws, restore workplace democracy, and incentivize the creation of youth employment” and to introduce Bill 2: An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business (“Bill 2”).[1] Albertans voted and the UCP was successful in gaining a majority of the seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The Legislature is now in session.

This week, Bill 2 was introduced into the Legislature by the Honourable Jason Copping who stated that the bill will restore prosperity, fairness and balance in the workplace and get Albertans back to work by reducing burdens on job creators, restoring democracy in unionized work environments, and strengthening rules that co-ordinate workplace complaints involving multiple bodies.

It is anticipated that Bill 2 will be followed in the fall by further changes to workplace laws in Alberta that will protect workers and help employers create more jobs.

What are the proposed changes in Bill 2?

Overtime Banking

Bill 2 proposes to repeal the change to overtime banking that came into force January 1, 2018, whereby time off in lieu of overtime pay would be calculated at 1.5 hours off for each hour of overtime worked. Bill 2 will change this calculation back to 1 hour off for 1 overtime hour worked.

General Holiday Pay

Bill 2 proposes to repeal the change to general holiday pay that came into force January 1, 2018. Bill 2 proposes to return to the regular/irregular workday distinction for calculating general holiday pay, along with a return to a qualifying period of 30 work days in the 12 months preceding the general holiday.

Certification Applications

Bill 2 proposes to restore mandatory secret ballots for union certification votes. In addition, Bill 2 proposes a return to the 90 day period (down from 6 months) for unions to show evidence of employee support for certification.

Supports for Employees

Bill 2 proposes to allow the Minister to establish a fund to provide support and assistance to unionized employees, and to guide employees with respect to their rights under the Labour Relations Code and other labour legislation.

Multiplicity of Proceedings

Bill 2 proposes to strengthen the marshalling of proceedings section of the Labour Relations Code to coordinate employment related complaints and reduce a multiplicity of proceedings in various forums (i.e. complaints before the Labour Relations Board, Employment Standards Commission, Human Rights Commission, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Workers’ Compensation Board etc.).

When will these proposed changes come into effect?

If Bill 2 is passed, the proposed changes will come into effect as follows:

May 27, 2019: certification application changes

September 1, 2019: general holiday pay and banked overtime changes

October 1, 2019: supports for employees

Are changes being made to minimum wage?

The minimum wage of $15.00/hour that was implemented by the previous government will be retained. A new youth minimum wage of $13.00/hour has been implemented for students under the age of 18. This change comes into effect on June 26, 2019.