UCP government using pandemic to make ideological changes to workplace rules – AFL

New changes to the Employment Standards Code gives employers unnecessary and outrageous advantage

EDMONTON – “The UCP is using the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to make ideological changes to workplace rules that water down protections for working Albertans and have nothing to do with the health emergency,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Calling employers the “job creators,” the UCP proposed changes will remove the 24-hour written notice of a shift change at a time when notices for employees will be all the more important. Such a change will be particularly difficult for working people with family members at home. With in-school classes cancelled and child care centres open only for essential service workers, like front-line health care staff, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for parents to find options for child care if their shift changes at a moment’s notice.

McGowan, in a letter to Minister Copping urging consultation, stated, “During this time of a public health emergency due to a global pandemic and economic shock due to low oil prices, the naked truth about the economy is that the real ‘job creators’ are Alberta’s working people. Time and time again this UCP government fails to acknowledge this truth, and last night was no exception.”

Similarly, the allowance for employers to waive the usual two weeks’ notice period for shift changes under an overtime averaging agreement could put workers in incredibly difficult and stressful situations. During this extraordinary time, sudden shift changes on the whim of an employer should not be allowed.

Removing the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated and “streamlining” the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards so employers and workers can respond quicker to changing conditions need to be better defined and seem completely unnecessary at this time.

“A good employer may look at these changes and think ‘I’m not going to do this to my employees,’” said McGowan. “But the rules aren’t for good employers.”


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL