Alberta Opposition leader Rachel Notley, with NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray, at yesterday’s Labour Day news conference (Photo: Brad Gibbons, Alberta NDP).

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley vowed yesterday to reverse two United Conservative Party policies that reduced overtime payments for many working Albertans and lowered minimum wages for young people if the NDP forms government after the next election. 

Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, whose 186-word message on the government website marked Labour Day yesterday (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Ms. Notley said at a Labour Day news conference in Edmonton that the NDP is committed to restoring Alberta’s employment standards legislation to put it back in line with the Canadian mainstream, reversing UCP changes that guaranteed lower overtime pay calculations for workers.

She also promised to restore the single general minimum wage, eliminating the lower $13-per-hour minimum wage for Albertans under 18 years of age.

“Not only have wages fallen far behind during a period of historic inflation and the steep rise in the cost of living but we are seeing reports that more Albertans than ever are struggling,” Ms. Notley said. “If Alberta’s NDP forms the next government and I am fortunate enough to be your premier, we will make sure Albertans get the fair pay they’re owed.”

Specifically, she said, an NDP government would guarantee that all overtime pay owed is paid at time and half, even if it is banked. 

The UCP currently allows employers to force workers to bank their overtime hours as time-off-in-lieu, calculated at straight time, and the NDP estimates its change would return fairness to more than 380,000 Albertans who work overtime, especially non-unionized workers in the energy sector.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who may not have had time to write a Labour Day message, but does enjoy dressing up like a working man (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

In addition to eliminating the lower $13-per-hour differential youth wage introduced by the UCP, Ms. Notley and NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray promised never to introduce a differential wage for liquor servers. 

“The UCP cut wages for young workers, driving many to look for work and other opportunities outside of Alberta,” she said. “And last year, we broke 30-year records for young adults leaving this province.”

“As we move into a period of massive, multi-billion-dollar surpluses, we refuse to stand by and allow working people to fall behind,” Ms. Notley said. “Danielle Smith, Brian Jean, Travis Toews, none of them will stand up for working people’s wages. I will. Alberta’s NDP will continue to stand up for our province, ensuring Alberta remains the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

Meanwhile, in his Labour Day message, Premier Jason Kenney said … well, nothing.

That is to say, Mr. Kenney didn’t bother to publish a Labour Day message. Perhaps he thought his “Alberta Day” message on Sept. 1 was a good enough note on which to end the summer.

The task of delivering a Labour Day message was left to Labour Minister Kaycee Madu, who despite not having very much to say, managed to devote 186 words to the task on the government’s website. 

Said Mr. Madu: “As Alberta’s Minister of Labour and Immigration, I offer my heartfelt thanks to workers in every sector of the economy. I appreciate your extraordinary efforts as we rise to today’s challenges. Alberta’s government is proud to support you throughout your career journey.”

After a plug for a UCP job-training program, Mr. Madu touted the government’s occupational health and safety website as a contributor to worker safety and said the UCP is updating the Occupational Health and Safety Code, a plan that given the UCP’s past approach to regulation and worker rights should be viewed with grave concern by working people. 

NOTE: I expect to be on the road this week, which may mean fewer AlbertaPolitics.ca posts than usual. Things should return to normal next week. DJC

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27 Comments

  1. The UCP stops at nothing to make it harder for so many people in this province. This includes students. They made tuition so out of reach for many post secondary students, because of sharp cost increases to it, and reduced the minimum wage for those under the age of 18. Anyone who is a teenager, and who is under 18, can’t properly save for post secondary tuition costs. Not everyone in Alberta has wealthy parents either. The youth in Alberta should be asking their parents and grandparents what they were thinking, when they thought that voting for the UCP was a good idea. Look at what the results were. It’s a terrible mess.

    1. I have no idea how teenagers today manage to show any respect whatsoever for their elders. The old eat the young, uphill both ways, barefoot through the snow.

        1. Yeah, the problem with cutting your nose off to spite your face is that your face will eventually recover from being spited, but your nose is gone forever.

          1. Time to dust off this meme … “I never thought they’d eat MY face”, sobbed the woman who had voted for the Leopards Eating Peoples’ Faces Party … which encapsulates how voters often vote against their own best interests.

            https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/leopards-eating-peoples-faces-party

            Viz. Indigenous leaders, like Enoch Cree Chief Bill Morin, endorsing Pierre Poilièvre; Daveberta reports he is also considering running for a UCP nomination.

            https://daveberta.ca/2022/09/ucp-mla-mark-smith-not-running-for-re-election-ndp-nominates-mla-kathleen-ganley-and-marlin-schmidt/

      1. Not necessarily. The Jason Kenny’s of the world don’t necessarily represent the views of other/most 54 year olds. His views have never had any resemblance to mine and I’m 55.
        That said, my wife’s 19 year old voted conservative in the last election. Why in earth he did that I’ll never understand, but it wasn’t an unintentional mistake..

    2. The UCP care not about students who work to pay for their own post-secondary education. In addition to two-tier minimum wage, they’ve jacked up tuition and student loan rates, and cut tuition tax credits. Banked overtime at the regular hourly rate also affects students, who very much need their overtime rate to be time-and-a-half in cash, not time off at the hourly rate later. Yet somehow, they pay more than $100,000 for a summer job to a single student whose wealthy parent pays fancy American university tuition fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is one Ben Harper. Could Ben Harper live on $15 an hour, let alone $13 an hour? How much are Cuban cigars and single malt spirits these days, or golf course memberships?

  2. Said Mr. Madu: “As Alberta’s Minister of Immigration and Labour, I offer my heartfelt thanks to workers in every sector of the economy.”
    What happened to thoughts and prayers?

    1. 1)General strike
      2)Extralegal Police violence culminating in unarmed, peaceful, legally striking workers being shot by Police.
      3)Thoughts and prayers.

      We’re not there yet.

  3. It appears likely that if the NDP is able to win government once again next year, Alberta will once again have a “summer of repeal” as it works to roll back the most odious of the UCP’s regressive legislative changes.

    This illustrates one of the principle downsides of having a highly ideological, doctrinaire party — and here I am referring solely to the UCP, in case anyone was in any doubt — win government. I call it “policy whiplash”: the radical redrafting of a jurisdiction’s legislative and regulatory regime after a change of government.

    Politics in Canada has almost always been primarily characterized by incrementalism, with the occasional broad policy shift punctuating that history. Since the end of the Second World War, the major policy shifts at the federal level have been bilingualism and Medicare in the 1960s, patriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights in the early 1980s, Free Trade and the GST later on in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

    Provincially, we had the post-Lougheed/Getty sharp shift to the right under King Ralph, then a gentle tack to the centre-right under Stelmach, then the policy incoherence of Redford and Prentice before the upset NDP victory in 2015. The Notley-led NDP government was a pragmatic, moderate, non-ideological regime that brought us generally good government with a remarkable paucity of scandal.

    But its existence so deeply rankled the more right-wing elements of Alberta society that they chose to forcibly merge two conservative parties that had been separate for quite valid policy reasons — one a relatively moderate, “big tent” brokerage party, the other a doctrinaire, ideological, wedge politics party. The merger had only one purpose: to defeat the NDP, which it went on to do in 2019. But as we have seen in its governance since then, it has basically submerged its moderate, “big tent” wing, governing instead as an ideological Conservative party.

    So, while in other jurisdictions a change of government is usually met with a certain degree of “roll with it” ennui, the 2015 and 2019 changes of government have even quite different. The NDP introduced quite moderate changes to labour laws, employment standards, and occupational health and safety legislation, which the UCP in 2019 didn’t simply reverse but turned back even farther than under past PC regimes.

    If the NDP wins government, it will have to rapidly undo much of the UCP’s undoing of its 2015-19 legacy. This kind of radical reshaping of society and the economy every four years can’t be healthy. If the NDP’s opposition were more pragmatic, those changes might not need to be so radical.

    1. At least the UCP whip-crackers have managed to make the NDP look the more sensible party: should Rachel Notley’s party take back power, the proposed policy shift would be from hyper-ideological to less-ideological, and her proposed adjustment to basic wage policy thus more broadly appealing.

      It’s fortunate that the kind of partisan whiplash gaining potency in the USA—where the winner, if not tRumpublican, is accused of electoral fraud, or if it is so-radicalized, promises to rig the voting and electoral systems so it can’t be ousted by fair democratic measure. But we did come perilously close when BC’s third electoral-system Referendum in a decade-and-a-half offered a ‘test-drive’ option if voters approved one of a number of proportional representation alternatives. Had both been approved the potential for electoral systems becoming a partisan football where challengers accuse the incumbent government of enjoying an advantage by the system under which it was elected—and promises to impose one which would, presumably, advantage the challenging party if it wins power—risked becoming a regular psephological feature of any or all future contests , thereby undermining voters’ trust in a system which is supposed to be impeccably impartial. Fortunately, BC voters once again cast for the status quo First-Past-the-post.

      Successfully offering highly—or even purely—ideological policies on campaign always risks peace, order and prosperity being washed overboard in resulting rough seas.

  4. To be fair I couldn’t care less what Jason thinks about labour day, the history of the labour movement or canadian labour institutions so it’s probably for the best.

  5. While Minister Madu’s statement was intended to appeal to no one, Ms. Notley’s was clearly intended to appeal to the NDP base and I’m sure won over almost exactly zero UCP voters.

    The banked time policy she’s promised isn’t actually all that attractive because it comes with downsides, and I would encourage the NDP to consider talking to stakeholders and building buy-in before making it a reality (again). “Because other provinces do it” doesn’t carry much water with the average Alberta voter so more groundwork needs to be done to make such a change both desirable and durable.

    And young Albertans aren’t leaving the province over $13 minimum wage. They are leaving because Alberta has become a political, ideological, educational, and economic throwback to a bygone time that they don’t want to be a part of. Tinkering with minimum wage for minors is the very least of what would be needed to keep bright young Albertans in the province into their working years.

    1. What are the downsides of having time banked or payed out at the same rate ? I fail to see what you are talking about. By stakeholders do you mean employers? Because frankly I don’t care if they see a downside to not shorting their people 1/2 an hour per hour.

  6. This concerning part of this declaration is that Notley pulled the teeth from her own pieces of labour equity legislation to calm the screaming UCP invested horde. This was an extreme act of cowardice that should call into question the veracity of Notley’s own words.

    This may yet come back to haunt her.

  7. Once again the NDP shows that they care about the well-being of all Albertans, just like Peter Lougheed did, while these reformers think treating us like morons will win them the next elect. How stupid do they think we are? Well they know how stupid many Albertans are. They are catering to the ignorant seniors who continue to believe every lie these fools feed them while they blame Trudeau and Notley for the horrific mess we are in that these reformers created under Klein, Stelmach and Redford . Where is the intelligence in that? Of course they aren’t smart enough to understand the facts.

  8. The UCP is a corporate party of the 1%. Why anyone who is not in that group would vote for them is beyond me. I guess there are many more people in the province who think they are in the 1% than there are actually in the 1%.

  9. So I just received in the mail my leadership vote ballot after buying a membership for the first time a few weeks ago.

    So, what are peep’s thoughts on who the least conservative candidates are, ranked?

    Also, what are people’s thoughts on who are more likely to win, ranked?

    Any elaboration is also appreciated!

    Maarsii,

    Tim

      1. In all honesty, I’d really want to spoil that ballot – write “some random homeless guy” and check that box. I get that that’s not really a constructive option. I sincerely commend you for looking for the least awful alternative and I’d help if I knew how as I’ve come to believe that voting for the least bad option available is usually moral behaviour. I guess I’d pick Todd Loewen because I know the least about him and nearly everything I know about all of the candidates is bad.

  10. On the day that Queen Elizabeth II died, Jason Kenney was preoccupied with guns. The headlines read: “Alberta to invest $7 million into chief firearms office next year,” and “Queen was a safeguard for parliamentary democracy, says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney”.

    https://globalnews.ca/news/9114565/alberta-chief-firearms-officer-funding-increase/

    https://globalnews.ca/news/9115485/alberta-politicians-remember-queen-elizabeth-ii/

    If there’s one way to safeguard parliamentary democracy, surely it’s putting more guns into the hands of law-abiding citizens. It’s part of “Alberta’s handgun culture”, doncha know. Say what? A “handgun culture” that doesn’t exist…yet? What better way to commemorate the death and 70-year reign of the monarch, than with a 96-gun salute in Alberta. Maybe in your own back yard. Maybe with handguns, for the “culture”.

    Oops, don’t read the correction in that Global article, folks. Quoting lies no matter who says them does have its mildly humiliating drawbacks.

    “EDITOR’S NOTE: Part of a quote by Premier Kenney was deleted in this article after it was published after Global News learned a mountain he said was named after Queen Elizabeth II was in fact named after Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.”

    1. There’s also this, from Kenney on the day of the Queen’s death: “Alberta is intervening in a constitutional challenge of federal legislation that has unilaterally labelled plastic as a ‘toxic substance’.”

      Alberta does have a toxicity problem that won’t go away, but May 2023 could solve it.

    2. lolwut? A monarch as a protector of parliamentary democracy? Not throwing shade at the Queen here, but that is a very curious interpretation of what a monarch is and does. Putting monarchs in charge of democracy is kind of like putting billionaires in charge of unions.

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