The Alberta government has been paying a lot of attention to labour in our province this year, something that is long overdue.
First there was Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, that was passed in June. This saw significant changes to provincial labour law, including union certification.
Now the NDP has introduced large changes with Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.
“Every Albertan should be able to go to work and come home healthy and safe at the end of the workday. When they don’t, they deserve to have access to the medical and financial supports they need to get healthy, care for their families and return to work,” said Christina Gray, Alberta Minister of Labour at a press conference on Monday.
She explained that this bill would better protect Albertans and provide fair compensation to Albertans injured on the job.
This bill if passed would mean an improved Workers Compensation Board system with ‘greater benefits to workers to support their return to work.’ The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) would see changes to ensure Albertan’s have the same rights as other Canadians in the workplace.
According to the Edmonton Journal, The WCB paid out 144 fatality claims in 2016, as well as more than 44,500 disabling injury claims.
Teamsters Local 362 was happy to see that some of the proposed changes included better coverage and support for those dealing with mental health issues at work. Local 362 has fought for every workplace to have mandatory mental health support with multiple campaigns you can find here.
Workers’ Compensation Board changes
· Establishing an independent Fair Practices Office that helps Albertans navigate the WCB system by providing additional resources to support workers every step of the way.
· Establishing a Code of Rights and Conduct that outlines the rights of workers and employers, while also explaining how WCB staff would recognize these rights and conduct.
· Improving benefits for:
· Surviving spouses and children when a worker is killed on the job.
· Young workers who sustain a long-term injury that affects their career opportunities.
· Enhancing coverage for psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, for all occupations where workers have experienced a traumatic incident at work.
Occupational Health and Safety changes
· Enshrining the three basic rights of workers in Alberta’s legislation:
· The right to refuse unsafe work. The proposed changes protect workers from any form of reprisal for exercising this right, including loss of compensation or benefits.
· The right to know. The proposed changes ensure workers are informed about potential hazards and have access to basic health and safety information in the workplace.
· The right to participate. The proposed changes ensure workers are involved in health and safety discussions, including participation in health and safety committees.