After over a year of trepidation by Alberta's business
community, it is now certain that the minimum wage will rise
quickly from $12.20 per hour in October 2016 to $15 per hour in
October 2018. On September 13, 2016, Labour Minister Christina Gray
announced that the NDP Government had passed AR 145/2016, a regulation to hike the minimum
wage effective October 1, 2016. The wage rate will increase October
1, 2017 to $13.60 per hour before settling at $15 per hour on
October 1, 2018.
This policy decision is a continuation of the NDP's 2015
election campaign promise to increase the minimum wage to $15 per
hour. In 2015, the NDP Government raised the minimum wage from
$10.20 per hour to $11.20 per hour.
Certain salespersons and professionals will be subject to a
scalable minimum wage rate beginning at $486 per week in 2016, $542
per week in 2017 and $598 per week in 2018. Employees who live
primarily in the employer's home, such as nannies, will be
subject to a minimum wage rate of $2,316 per month in 2016, $2,582
per month in 2017 and $2,848 per month in 2018.
The regulation also proposes to phase out the current
differential between those who serve alcohol and those who do not.
Alcohol servers have historically been paid $1 per hour less than
other minimum wage earners, in order to compensate for the fact
that most servers and bartenders receive more earnings by way of
tips. In 2015, the NDP Government reduced this differential to
$0.50 per hour. As of October 1, 2016, this differential will be
This new regulation will affect approximately 300,000 Albertans
(about 7%) who currently earn less than $15 per hour. The NDP
Government has said that the minimum wage hike will be a
significant move towards a "living wage" for many
Albertans. However, business groups and employers, including
industry group Restaurants Canada, have criticized the wage hike by
saying that it will lead to businesses raising prices and shedding
tens of thousands of jobs. The regulation also comes at a time when
Alberta is in the midst of one of its most severe economic
recessions. Some business groups are also concerned that the
minimum wage hike will have knock-on effects in other sectors of
Alberta's economy, leading to inflationary pressures on wages
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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