UCP ‘Open for Business Act Part’ of Job Creation Strategy

Restoring workplace democracy, bringing balance to labour law, creating jobs for youth included in plan

EDMONTON, AB: As a key part of its job creation strategy, a United Conservative government would introduce an Open for Business Act to reverse massive new costs imposed on employers by the NDP, while restoring workplace democracy and tackling youth unemployment.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney made the announcement today at Edmonton’s Vienna Bakery, a family business hit hard by anti-business NDP policies.  The bakery has gone from 24 to 16 staff as a result of new labour regulations and costs imposed by the NDP.

“The story of this bakery is the story of the Alberta economy under the NDP,” Kenney said. “A layering of expensive new regulations, taxes, and labour costs have pummelled job creators. The inevitable result is that businesses have been forced to lay people off in order to keep their doors open. The job-killing impact of these policies has been especially bad for young workers, with youth unemployment going up to 11.7% under the NDP.”

“Changes the NDP made to the calculation of statutory holiday pay have ended up costing the Vienna Bakery, and many other small businesses like it, the equivalent of an extra month of payroll. And the carbon tax is taking $400 a month out of this employer’s bottom line.”

“The NDP’s policies have ended up hurting the people they say they want to help,” Kenney said. “Unemployment has gone up for seven of the last nine months, we have the highest unemployment outside of Atlantic Canada, and average family incomes are down by over 6%. Young people are giving up: the youth employment rate has plummeted from 71% to 62%. The number of young Alberta men who don’t have a job has never been higher,” Kenney said.

“This can’t go on. We need urgent action to get Alberta back to work, creating jobs. A UCP government would be obsessed with job creation. That’s why we would pass the Open for Business Act as Bill 2 of the next Legislature.”

The Open for Business Act will:

  • Retain the general $15 minimum wage
  • Introduce a Youth Job Creation Wage of $13.00 for workers who are 17 years of age or younger in order to incentivize the creation of first-time jobs for unemployed dependent teenagers.[1]
  • Appoint a Minimum Wage Expert Panel to
    • consult with workers, employers, and policy experts
    • analyse and publish all of the available economic data on the labour market impact of the NDP’s 50% increase in the minimum wage
    • assess whether hospitality industry workers who serve alcohol would likely generate higher net incomes (i.e. by working more hours) with a wage differential similar to those that exist in Ontario[2] Quebec[3] and British Columbia[4]
  • Return to a regular / irregular workday distinction for calculating general holiday pay.
  • Return to a holiday pay qualifying period of 30 work days in the last 90 days of employment.
  • Return to allowing banked hours to be paid out at regular pay instead of time-and-a-half.
  • Review all regulations as part of the UCP Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, with the goal of reducing the regulatory burden on job creators by one third.

The Open for Business Act would restore workplace democracy and bring balance back to labour legislation, while retaining recent changes that have strengthened worker rights and provided for greater compassionate leave.

The UCP would:

  • Restore the mandatory secret ballot for union certification votes.
  • Protect workers from being forced to fund causes and political parties without explicit opt-in approval.
  • Reverse the replacement worker ban in the public sector.
  • Require the Labour Relations Board to provide legal support to all union workers in order to better understand and exercise their rights.
  • Strengthen new provisions in the Labour Relations Code that have reduced the duplication of employment claims in multiple forums (such as labour relations; employment standards; arbitration; and privacy).
  • Retain new forms of leave adopted in recent legislation[5] including:
    • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave
    • Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave
    • Bereavement Leave
    • Domestic Violence Leave
    • Citizenship Ceremony Leave – A new unpaid leave provides up to a half-day of job protection for employees attending a citizenship ceremony.
    • Critical Illness of an Adult Family Member
    • Critical Illness of a Child
    • Death or disappearance of a Child

The UCP will also retain essential services legislation, and some other sensible recent changes to the labour code.

Concluded Kenney, “We have to protect the rights and safety of hard-working Albertans. And to make sure there’s work for everybody who wants it, we also have to reduce unnecessary costs and red tape on those who create jobs.”

“A UCP government will end the NDP’s ideological attacks on job creators, and bring balance back to the relationships between workers and employers,” Kenney concluded. “The jobs crisis in this province is not going to solve itself. It will action to get Alberta back to work, and that’s what the Open for Business Act is all about.”

A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found here.