The Notley government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would bring about some of the largest changes in Alberta’s labour laws seen in decades.
Bill 30, an Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans, will make numerous amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Whether the changes will make Alberta workers safer remains to be seen. What is known is that by proposing major amendments to labour laws at this time, Premier Notley has thrown down the gauntlet against her principal right-wing opponents.
Changes under Bill 30 will include giving employees the right to refuse dangerous work, expanding rules to prevent workplace violence and harassment, and creating worksite health and safety committees.
The government says the changes are long overdue and much needed to bring Alberta into line with other provincial jurisdictions.
“Every Albertan should be able to go to work and come home healthy and safe at the end of the workday,” said Minister of Labour Christina Gray. “When they don’t, they deserve to have access to the medical and financial supports they need to get healthy, care for their families and return to work. This bill would better protect hard-working Albertans and provide fair compensation to Albertans injured on the job.”
The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets minimum standards for workplace health and safety, and outlines the roles and responsibilities of employers and employees.
“These proposed changes would better protect workers, ensure they have the same rights and protections as other Canadians, and empower them to participate in health and safety in Alberta’s workplaces,” she said.
Making significant changes to Alberta’s labour laws with less than two years remaining before the next election is a major political move by the Notley NDP.
The question now is whether Jason Kenney and his UCP colleagues will take up the challenge and say unequivocally that they are prepared to scrap some or all of the changes if they win the 2019 election.
Dan Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor.