Van Djiken and other opposition members join business in urging government for more labour consultations

by Morinville News Staff

The Wildrose and Progressive Conservative caucuses have joined representatives from Alberta’s business community in calling on the NDP government to “extend and enhance the consultation process” in its review of the Labour Relations and Employment Standards Codes.

Tuesday was the government’s deadline for written and online survey submissions for the labour legislation review, opposition and business believe could introduce sweeping changes.

The parties are critical that the government has only held four private meetings to meet directly with business representatives, despite opposition parties continual warnings to the Premier and Minister of Labour about the importance of “adequately engaging job creators in our province when potentially introducing significant labour changes.”

“We have seen repeatedly from this government a pattern of driving through policies that go against the grain of Albertans and our industries,” said Wildrose Shadow Labour Minister and Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Djiken. “This isn’t the Alberta way. Recent labour changes in other provinces were only done after nearly two years of consultations. The government needs to start listening to Albertans who are worried about the long-term prosperity of our province before they decide to try and ram through ideological legislation.”

Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said the NDP are putting their ideological agenda over what’s best for Alberta families.

“Our job creators are willing to work collaboratively, and it’s concerning the provincial government is not willing to do the same,” Kenney said. “During tough economic times, we need to be enabling employers to keep Alberta moving forward. I can assure you; the Progressive Conservatives will continue to stand up for what’s in the best interest of Albertans and get our province back to work.”

Amber Ruddy, Canadian Federation of Independent Business Director of Provincial Affairs believes modernized employment rules should be flexible for small employers to better support job creation.

“Unfortunately this government missed the mark on substantive consultation with small business owners,” Ruddy said. “The right thing to do would be to enhance and extend this important discussion so that entrepreneurs can weigh in with meaningful insights.”

The government’s current work on legislation focuses on the Employment Standards Code and the Labour Relations Code, last revised significantly in 1988.

The two pieces of legislation cover hours of work, overtime, general holidays, special leaves, and collective bargaining rules.

In March, the government said some of the province’s workplace rules are out-of-step with the rest of Canada, and in need of review.

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