Alberta introduces bill to change overtime pay, reduce youth minimum wage

EDMONTON — Alberta is cutting the minimum wage for young workers and making other changes to overtime, holiday pay and votes for union certification.

Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government has introduced a bill, which if passed would reduce the minimum wage for workers aged 13 to 17 to $13 an hour from $15 an hour, starting June 26.

The $15 rate, the highest in Canada, would remain in place for everyone else.

Kenney says the deal still gives a good wage to young Albertans compared to other provinces, while giving employers resources to hire more of them.

“Look — 13 bucks an hour — that’s a heck of a lot more than zero bucks an hour. And that’s the option here,” Kenney told reporters after the Open for Business Act was tabled in the legislature Monday.

“We’ve got 30,000 young Albertans here out of work. We want to get them their first job experience. We’re talking about part-time, teenagers who are typically in high school, working typically 20 hours a week or less.”

Under the former NDP government, Alberta’s minimum wage rose to $15 an hour from $10.20. Rachel Notley, then premier and now Opposition leader, argued the hike was critical because workers were owed a living wage.

Notley said Monday the age-based tier is unfair given that some students may have as many financial obligations as adults, or at least want to start saving for their future education and other necessities.

“Albertans, young or old, deserve equal pay for equal work,” she said. “Rolling back the minimum wage for young people demonstrates a lack of compassion and, quite frankly, a lack of respect.”

The bill also proposes to cancel changes instituted by Notley’s government on overtime, allowing it to be paid out as straight time rather than time-and-a-half.

Kenney said it gives employers more flexibility to give workers more hours, and therefore more pay, if they choose.

“It’s a flexibility tool that we’ve always had in Alberta, until just a year ago,” he said.

Notley called it a major rollback of potential earnings for 400,000 workers, particularly in the oil and gas and construction sectors.

“The average oil and gas worker could lose $2,500 on a 12-week project, if forced to bank that (over)time at straight time,” she said.

There are other proposed changes.

Under the bill, only employees who regularly work on a general holiday will be entitled to receive holiday pay.

The eligibility period to qualify for statutory holiday pay is also changing. Currently, as soon as an employee is hired, they are eligible. Under the proposed legislation, an employee has to have worked 30 days over the preceding year to qualify.

The bill would also restore a mandatory secret ballot for all union certification votes.

And it is proposing to return to a 90-day period for unions to provide evidence of employee support for certification.

Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour said the changes to youth and overtime pay are self-defeating.

“Cutting wages and cutting jobs won’t strengthen the Alberta economy. It will weaken it,” he said.

Minimum Wage

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education minister targeting more money to classes

Alberta Education announces new funding model

Updated: Summer villages oppose increased density at Buffalo Lake RV park

The summer villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands have rejected a… Continue reading

Indoor farmers market survey underway

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce sponsors survey

New Red Deer utility rates take effect March 1

The City of Red Deer has increased its utility fees. Beginning March… Continue reading

Four people charged in drug trafficking investigation

Rocky Mountain House RCMP execute search warrant

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Stolen car provides opportunity to try out public transit

I had my car stolen on Jan. 10, just as our one… Continue reading

POLL: How would you characterize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the rail blockades?

How would you characterize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the rail… Continue reading

Upsets tighten Tournament of Hearts race to championship round

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The “pool of death” defending champion Chelsea Carey… Continue reading

Repairs will force QEII lane cloure north of Ponoka on Wednesday

Crews will be performing cable barrier repairs on the QEII Highway, five… Continue reading

Ottawa changing stress test rate for insured mortgages starting April 6

OTTAWA — The federal government is changing the stress test rate for… Continue reading

PM urges patience, promises reconciliation in face of anti-pipeline blockades

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to redouble reconciliation efforts with… Continue reading

Most Read