It’s been a tumultuous month for labour in Alberta.
In October UCP leader Danielle Smith’s government split the Labour Ministry in two, creating the Skilled Trades & Professions and Jobs Ministry, led by Minister Kaycee Madu, and Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Ministry, led by Minister Brian Jean.
The United Conservatives didn’t immediately assign the responsibility of overseeing Occupational Health and Safety or the Labour Relations Code to either ministry, but after some questioning by the NDP opposition Smith’s government confirmed that both would be handled by Jean’s new ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development. Jean’s ministry will also oversee the enforcement of employment standards in the workplace and labour relations, which includes the Labour Relations Code, legislation, mediation services, and information on collective bargaining agreements. The Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development will take over implementing regional economic development and small business resources as well.
After a long two-and-a-half years of working through the COVID-19 pandemic, and cases steadily rising as we dive into another winter, one might think that Occupational Health and Safety would be at the top of our government’s priorities. Last year Alberta’s Workers Compensation Board received over 12,500 claims from workers who tested positive and caught COVID-19 while at work. The Legislative Assembly will resume session on November 29, so we’ll find out more about what this means for members then. No matter what, AUPE will always fight for your workplace rights and protections. We’ll continue to hold our government accountable and ensure that your workplace Occupational Health and Safety is taken seriously.
If you’ve got an OH&S issue on your worksite you can always fill out the AUPE OH&S reporting form found on AUPE.org here. Once you submit the form the AUPE OH&S department will review your information and connect you with your Membership Services Officer (MSO). Your MSO can help you. As always, your employer cannot take disciplinary action against you for exercising your OH&S rights.