Alberta's new NDP government: Its agenda for labour and employment

3 minute read
01 May 2015

On May 5, 2015, Alberta voters elected the New Democratic Party (NDP) to form government, an event that many said could never happen in that province. Much will be said about the changes that will come to Alberta as a result of this political earthquake. One key area is labour market policy.

Historically, the NDP has been closely aligned with trade unions and gives serious attention to labour issues. What does the NDP have in store for Alberta? Of course, no laws have yet been passed, but we can find clues in NDP policy and in statements made by Premier-Elect Rachel Notley during the 2015 provincial campaign.

The NDP has promised to:

  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
  • Restore the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) program by investing $10 million annually and partnering with municipalities and community organizations to create 3,000 jobs for students each year.
  • Create 27,000 new jobs in Alberta by rewarding businesses that hire new employees in Alberta with a targeted Job Creation Tax Credit. The tax credit plan will encourage new hiring by refunding 10% of each new employee’s salary to a maximum salary of $50,000.  The plan will support up to 100 new hires at participating businesses.  Participation will be measured through employer payroll increases and employment insurance data.
  • Reverse cuts to apprenticeship training.
  • Create jobs in Alberta by promoting upgrading and refining of resources in Alberta (part of the platform relating to the NDP plan to establish a Resource Owners’ Rights Commission and to conduct a  review on resource development and resources).

If and when these proposals are put into effect, Alberta employers would see some increases to employee costs, but also new financial incentives to create both temporary and permanent jobs. It is pure speculation to say what effect such changes, in conjunction with other NDP economic policy and an unpredictable oil sector, will mean for the Province.

Gowlings will monitor the situation closely to ensure its clients are informed about changes to the law, such as employment standards and programs which may support employers in Alberta.

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