On March 13, 2017, the Alberta government announced that they would be proceeding with a review of Alberta’s workplace laws, including the Labour Relations Code and the Employment Standards Code. In a public mandate letter addressed to Arbitrator Andrew C.L. Sims, Q.C., the Minister of Labour identified a number of specific considerations that will form part of the review of the Labour Relations Code.

The Alberta government also opened up a survey concerning select topics within the Employment Standards Code. The survey can be accessed at: https://extranet.gov.ab.ca/opinio6/s?s=ESCreview

We have been expecting for some time that the Alberta government would take steps to enhance the rights and protections for organized labour in Alberta in an effort to increase union density in the province. The choice of these specific topics certainly points towards potential reforms that will increase union density in Alberta.

The Alberta government has already:

  • enacted a broader right to strike coupled with essential services provisions in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4;
  • passed Bill 6, which extended the right to unionize to farm workers and also extended worker’s compensation and occupational health and safety legislation to them; and
  • conducted consultations on the labour relations of post-secondary faculty who are governed by the Post-secondary Learning Act, SA 2003, c P-19.5.

At this point, it is uncertain what changes the government will introduce. The items in the mandate letter are broad enough that many specific changes remain within the government’s contemplation at this time. We will be monitoring developments in this process closely and we invite you to speak with one of our employment and labour specialists regarding any or all of these topics.


Written with the assistance of Tyler R. Raymond, student-at-law.


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