Bill 17 up­dates labour laws in busi­ness, agri­cul­ture sec­tors

The Drumheller Mail - - MAIL WORKS! - Terri Hux­ley

sion that al­lowed em­ploy­ers to ap­ply for a per­mit to pay per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties less than min­i­mum wage,

Others to note in­clude rais­ing the min­i­mum work age up to 13 years of age, giv­ing more rights to non-fam­ily farm and ranch work­ers, and ex­pand­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices to con­tin­u­ing care op­er­a­tions.

With the ex­cep­tion of artis­tic en­deav­ours, youth un­der the age of 13 will not be al­lowed to work. The Min­istry will be cre­at­ing a list of light­work jobs for youth un­der 16 like ac­com­mo­da­tion and food ser­vice tasks such as set­ting ta­bles, golf cad­dy­ing, or work­ing in a proshop, not in­clud­ing cash reg­is­ter work. Ev­ery three years, the list will be up­dated. Any jobs not listed will re­quire a work per­mit. Ex­cluded from this are pro­grams or events such as 4-H or brand­ing days.

For va­ca­tion pay, em­ploy­ees must be paid four per cent or two weeks of their to­tal wages as va­ca­tion pay un­til they have been em­ployed for five years, after which they must re­ceive at least six per cent.

As well as an uneasy Cham­ber, dis­grun­tled farm­ers and ranch­ers have also voiced their con­cerns over the con­tro­ver­sial bill.

“Union­iza­tion on farms and ranches could se­ri­ously harm the vi­a­bil­ity of this sec­tor. It’s part of the agri­cul­ture com­mu­nity’s cul­ture to treat farm and ranch em­ploy­ees like fam- ily,” said Kent Erick­son, CoChair of the newly formed AgCoali­tion.

“But if em­ploy­ees feel pres­sured into union­iz­ing, a strike could re­sult in an­i­mal wel­fare is­sues and ir­re­versible da­m­ages to crops.”

The Al­berta Agri­cul­ture Farm and Ranch Safety Coali­tion (AgCoali­tion) was formed in the light of Bill 6; The En­hanced Pro­tec­tion for Farm and Ranch Work­ers Act.

Since then, the group has been work­ing closely with govern­ment to drive fu­ture change in the right di­rec­tion.

One of the pri­mary con­cerns was the process in which the Al­berta Govern­ment held many con­sul­ta­tions with the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try. The AgCoali­tion felt the ses­sions were ac­cu­rate in their record­ings but felt that the new changes would not be achiev­able within the in­dus­try.

“The Bill 6 con­sul­ta­tion process saw many farm­ers and ranch­ers work tire­lessly along­side other con­sul­ta­tion par­tic­i­pants to de­velop rec­om­men­da­tions that would work at the farm and ranch level,” said Erick­son.

“The govern­ment’s process to in­tro­duce Bill 17 is in­con­sis­tent with this work and in­tro­duces new pro­vi­sions that may not be man­age­able for the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try.”

Some ar­gue that the labourlaw changes are more than nec­es­sary to cre­ate an even play­ing field be­tween em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees.

“For far too many years, labour and em­ploy­ment laws in Al­berta have meant the odds have been stacked against em­ploy­ees,” said Mike Parker, Al­berta Health Ser­vices (AHS) and the Health Sciences As­so­ci­a­tion of Al­berta (HSAA) Pres­i­dent.

“The pro­posed changes in this leg­is­la­tion will move us some way to­wards restor­ing fair­ness and bal­ance. We hope to see more re­forms in the fu­ture that put Al­ber­tan work­ers on a par with the rest of Canada. Al­berta work­ers are as good as any in Canada and de­serve the same rights and pro­tec­tions as all other work­ers.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.