Alberta government reviewing Labour Relations Code changes: PCA expresses concerns

worker on road site
Image from CBC Edmonton

Alberta’s government has announced what it says is a “focused review” of Alberta’s Labour Relations Code. “We will consider a limited number of topics to make the code fairer, more balanced and effective,” the provincial government statement said.

Among the areas under consideration are:

  • Whether to mandate a Rand formula in collective agreements. (In Canadian labour law, the Rand formula (also referred to as automatic check-off) is a workplace situation where the payment of trade union dues is mandatory regardless of the worker’s union status.)
  • Assessing the processes used to let employees exercise their constitutional right to choose, change or cancel union representation in a timely and effective way.
  • The options available for dispute resolution in intractable disputes. This may include situations that involve unresolved first contracts, proven unfair labour practices, or the failure to maintain essential services that may lead to public emergencies.
  • Whether to broaden the Alberta Labour Relations Board’s mandate to enable adjudication of a wider range of workplace disputes.
  • Improving the Alberta Labour Relations Board’s powers, procedures and remedial options with a view to more timely dispute resolution, flexibility in the use of mediation, and available remedies reflective of labour relations realities.

The government says that labour lawyer, arbitrator and former Labour Relations Board Chair Andrew Sims “has been engaged to provide advice and support the review” under a mandate described in a letter posted on the government website.

Not surprisinglyThe Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), representing merit-oriented contractors says it is encouraging the Alberta Government to avoid unnecessary changes to the province’s Labour Relations Code, following a announcement that the code will be reviewed.

“Alberta has a diverse pool of labour models and that diversity is what makes Alberta’s construction industry strong, competitive and attractive,” said PCA president Paul de Jong. “We want to ensure that any changes being considered do not weaken a leading industry in this province, and put it at risk.”

As part of its review of the Labour Relations Code, the government has asked Albertans for their feedback over the coming weeks. PCA will be an active participant in the process.

“On behalf of construction contractors who employ thousands of Albertans, we’re raising a cautionary flag,” de Jong said. “Any risky or unnecessary labour code changes should not be contemplated, especially now with industry and the economy in recovery, and investor confidence only just beginning to rebuild.”

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