Above: Premier Jason Kenney and Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping are joined by Richard Truscott, CFIB, Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada and Mo Blayways, Owner of 1st RND to announce Bill 2: The Open for Business Act.
by Morinville News Staff
Alberta will return to past general holiday pay and banked overtime rules, restore democracy and balance to workplaces, and introduce a $13/hour minimum wage for students under 18 if Bill 2 – the Open for Business Act is passed.
If passed, Bill 2 would return to a holiday pay qualifying period of 30 work days in the last 12 months before a general holiday, and give employers and employees the option to develop straight-time banked hours arrangements and repeal Flexible Averaging Agreements.
“Our government ran on a promise to get Albertans, especially young people, back to work,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “The previous government’s changes to employment rules went too far, too fast. With Bill 2 and the youth minimum wage, we are restoring fairness and balance to the workplace and getting ‘Help Wanted’ signs back in the windows of Alberta businesses.”
The government’s Bill reduces what it says are unfair burdens on businesses. This includes the previous government’s requirement to provide holiday pay even if they were not open that day.
The UCP say they will address the youth unemployment crisis of 11 per cent by reducing minimum wage from $15 per hour to $13 per hour for youth under 18, allowing businesses to hire more youth.
“We need to encourage employers to create opportunities for all workers. These changes would help Alberta’s businesses to do just that,” said Minister of Labour Jason Copping. “We’re bringing back balance, cutting red tape and making it more affordable to hire teens for their first jobs. We are also keeping some of the recent changes that make sense, such as those that provided for compassionate leave and enhanced workers’ rights.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed the introduction of Bill 2.
“Business owners need to know their government has their backs, and that they are creating a policy environment that will facilitate their success,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB Vice-President for Alberta and BC. “Today’s announcement signals a step in that direction. Allowing a more flexible system of employment rules and entry-level wage rates for independent businesses will go a long way to accomplishing that goal.”
Following the spring election, CFIB polled its membership and found that 97 per cent support ensuring employment rules provide flexibility for both employers and employees, 84 per cent support freezing the general minimum wage at $15 an hour, and 82 per cent support creating a $13 minimum wage for youth 17 years of age or younger.
Not everyone sees Bill 2 as a good move for the province. Public Interest Alberta, that bills itself as a non-partisan non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy on public interest issues called the differential minimum wage a discriminatory decision that will hurt youth who the believe should be receiving equal work for equal pay. The group also sees the move as damaging to low-income workers over the age of 18.
“These changes will create a perverse incentive for employers to maximize profits by hiring youth instead of other workers because they can be paid less for doing the same work,” said Public Interest Alberta’s Executive Director Joel French. “This is clear discrimination against a demographic of workers who are not even able to express their opinion at the ballot box.”
If passed, the lower minimum wage for students will come into effect on June 26. Changes to holiday pay rules, overtime, and Flexible Averaging Agreements would take effect on Sept. 1 to give employers time to adjust.