The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) is concerned over the Province of Alberta’s indication that it wants to change current labour laws.
"The government has made it no secret that they are going to look at the labour code," said Darrel Reid, vice-president of policy and advocacy for the PCA.
The PCA has been meeting with government officials to determine the scope of the changes being considered.
According to Reid, the Building Trades of Alberta and other groups have been vocal about the need for sweeping changes to the labour code and have made public submissions to the provincial government.
The Building Trades were contacted for comment by the Journal of Commerce but declined, saying they are waiting to have some discussion with government before weighing in.
The Alberta Federation of Labour was not available for comment before deadline.
The PCA is worried the government could upset the balance between the various labour models, favouring one over the other.
"I think it’s fair to say that over the last 30 years, one of the major factors in Alberta’s profitability — the Alberta advantage — was the diversity of the labour markets here," said Reid. "If you are an international investor and want to make a big investment, the advantage has been that owners can choose between labour models and fit in with how it works best for them."
Reid noted that the traditional building trades model, progressive unionized model and open shop model all have a role to play in the province.
"Any effort to restrict that choice and tilt the tables for one model we think will be damaging and will put a chill on the investing climate," Reid said. "We don’t have great luxury given the economy right now to be messing around with the formula that has made Alberta such a success."
Reid said his discussions with government officials suggest the talk around the labour code could just be housekeeping changes.
In her speech from the throne, Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell didn’t mention altering labour models. However, she did speak about modernizing working conditions so that low-pay workers get a modest and predictable raise to fulfill the government’s commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In a statement to media, Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray said she is committed to reviewing Alberta’s labour laws to ensure they reflect today’s workplace, but declined to specify what changes are coming.
"Albertans deserve modern, fair and family-friendly workplaces," Gray said.