Yesterday Albertans made a decision that surprised many in our
province by electing an NDP majority government. The election
We will leave it to the pundits to analyse how these results
came to be, but one thing is for sure - changes are coming to the
Government of Alberta.
Many clients are concerned about what an NDP government will
mean for them and their organizations. We thought it would be
worthwhile to highlight some of the policies that will affect
employers and businesses.
The NDP platform includes the following:
Increasing the personal income tax rate as follows:
12% tax rate on income between $125,000 to $150,000
13% on income between $150,000 to $200,000
14% between $200,000 and $300,000
15% over $300,000
Increasing the corporate tax rate from 10% to 12% while
retaining the current small business tax rate and no sales tax
Establishing a "Job Creation Tax Credit" that will be
designed to help Alberta businesses which invest to create new
Increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018
Reviewing employment standards to support family-friendly work
standards, including improving compassionate care leaves and
providing time off for family responsibilities
The NDP has also been a proponent for extending Occupational
Health and Safety legislation to farm workers.
In the election, the NDP promised to "actively support
economic diversification in other sectors, including alternative
energy (including our proposed building retrofit loan fund), high
tech, advanced research, knowledge industries, film and television
production, small Alberta brewing, wind power, forestry,
value-added agriculture, food processing and tourism."
They have also promised an "Owners' Rights
Commission" to report to the Premier on "measures to
promote greater processing of Alberta's energy resources and to
ensure a full and fair return to the people of Alberta for their
energy resources". While the platform does not specifically
commit to raising royalties, there will be considerable uncertainty
throughout this process which we believe, and have been advised by
others, will have significant negative impact on new investment
decisions. The NDP have committed to act on the recommendations of
the Commission within the first year of the next Legislature.
There are no specific policy items that speak to labour code
reforms, but we expect that changes are on the way as many elected
NDP MLAs have extensive union backgrounds and Premier Notley was
herself a labour lawyer who worked both with and for unions.
The Government of Alberta is in the midst of reviewing labour
legislation (particularly the Public Service Employee Relations
Act) arising out of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision
giving Constitutional protection to the right to strike. This may
provide opportunity for more widespread changes to Alberta labour
legislation. The Alberta Government also recently announced it
would not be proceeding with recommendations to change
Alberta's construction labour legislation arising out of the
Sims Report. The new government could revisit these issues.
Other provinces which have elected NDP governments have
sometimes moved towards the following concepts:
Union certification without a secret ballot vote based only on
Bans on replacement workers in labour disputes
First contract arbitration
Restrictions on employer free speech
Novel employer unfair labour practice provisions
New appointments to the Labour Relations Board from a more
It is uncertain what if any priority the new government will
give to labour law reform or any of these possible issues, but they
all have the potential to significantly change labour and
employment law in the province.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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