New Alberta Labour Legislation Introduced

The Alberta government today introduced Bill 17, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, and announced plans to approve the legislation before the legislature adjourns for the summer.
ARHCA CEO Jim Rivait attended the technical briefing prior to the legislation being introduced. Bill 17 will require a detailed review but here is a summary of some of key changes.

Labour Code

  • No change to double-breasting or replacement worker provisions despite union pressure.
  • Hybrid model for union certification when the card check result is above 65% without a vote.  A vote (secret ballot) is retained for card check results between 40-65%.  There is a formal verification provision for both cases to confirm the numbers.  The process will take place under a tight timeline – 20 business days on site and 25 business days for mail in.
  • First contract wage freeze extended from 60 to 120 days.  The parties will be supported to reach agreement, but after 90 days, arbitration can be sought. 
  • Reverse onus will be instituted for five specific unfair labour practice issues and will only come into effect on Sept. 1 on a go-forward basis. 
  • Repeal of provisions that restricted creation of Market Enhancement Recovery Funds (MERFs), which were used by union contractors to submit more competitive bids for projects than non-union contractors.
  • Repeal of restrictions on Salting, planting unionized workers on a construction site before a certification vot

Employment Standards Code:

There are changes and additions to job-protected leaves. Leaves will be mandated after a 90-day qualification period and are unpaid.

Changes to align with federal employment insurance standards:

  • Compassionate care leave - 27 weeks.
  • Maternity leave increases - 16 weeks.
  • Parental leave increases - 52 weeks.


  • Long-term illness / injury - 16 weeks.
  • Leave for death or disappearance of a child is 52 weeks or 104 weeks if result of a crime.
  • Critical Illness - 36 weeks.


  • Personal - 5 days
  • Bereavement - 3 days
  • Domestic violence - 10 days
  • Citizenship - half day          

Youth Employment:

  • Ages 13, 14 and 15 - limited to light work.
  • Ages 16 and 17 - can work in any occupation, but permit required if work is hazardous.
  • Regulations will be developed to define light, hazardous, etc.

Simplify Standards:

  •  Breaks – 30-minute break every 5 hours.
  • Overtime banked for 6 months and calculated at 1.5X for all hours.
  • Vacation and vacation pay – eligible upon commencement of employment with no waiting period.
  • Enforcement – introduction of administrative penalties.

There are still many details to be decided. Employment Standards Code regulations will come into force January 2018, with the exception of the youth employment provisions that will come into force on proclamation.

Extended Work Permit:

  • Will stay in force.  Those that occur yearly, like the ARHCA extended hours of work permit, will be able to move to regulation. 

ARHCA met with senior officials leading the workplace legislation review to ensure that the concerns of ARHCA members were fully understood. The Association will have a key role in the regulation development process. We will continue our close communication with senior leadership in Alberta Labour throughout the process.