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

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

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.

ALSO READ: B.C. to increase minimum wage to $15.20/hour in 2021

“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.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

Teen sexually assaulted at Radley Beach

A sexual assault took place at Radley Beach in Burns Lake on… Continue reading

18-year old Vanderhoof woman arrested following stabbing

The incident occured on Aug 14 in Prince George

User groups frustrated with the district over their lack of communication

Two residents in the community are frustrated with the district’s staff over… Continue reading

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

Most Read