Latest NDP Labour Changes Hurt Alberta Workers and Small Businesses

EDMONTON, AB (October 1, 2018) – Alberta’s NDP government needs to recognize that their recent labour changes, including today’s latest minimum wage hike, were done too quickly and without proper consideration of economic ramifications.

“The NDP government failed to take the impact on workers into consideration,” said Richard Gotfried, United Conservative MLA for Calgary-Fish Creek and Economic Development and Jobs critic. “A minimum wage hike does not help workers if one’s job is destroyed as a consequence of that hike. Raising labour costs for small businesses at a time when many are still struggling to attract customers in a frail economy, on top of other rising costs, makes it harder for both workers and small businesses to get ahead.”

Restaurants Canada analysis released today shows that foodservice workers in Alberta experienced a 5.1 per cent decrease in their average weekly hours between 2015 and 2018, while the total number of Albertans employed in the foodservice and accommodation sector dropped by 13,300 since 2015. The number of employees per restaurant has decreased by 10 per cent since 2015. 

According to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, “we have heard from businesses, yes, they are laying people off, they are reducing hours and it is impacting often the people the policy is intended to help.” In Calgary alone, recent data shows 27,500 fewer service sector jobs.

“The NDP government pushed through these labour changes without consideration for how workers would be impacted nor has a proper economic impact assessment been completed. A nearly 50 per cent hike in just three years has been proven hard for employers to absorb, and workers pay the price in the end” said Grant Hunter, United Conservative MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner and Labour critic. “We remain particularly concerned for young Albertans looking to join the labour market and other vulnerable Albertans.”

Youth unemployment in Alberta currently stands at nearly 12 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. Since 2015, the NDP has raised the minimum wage by 47 per cent, much higher than the 5.42 per cent rate of inflation in that same time, making it more costly for small businesses to hire younger Albertans.