Labour Bytes: April 2016

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 AFL Pres Testifies against Trans-Pacific Partnership 

In a presentation to the House of Commons’ International Trade Committee, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan took aim at how the TPP would allow corporations to hire exploitable foreign workers, while ignoring qualified and unemployed Canadian workers.

“As faulty as it is, the current TFW program at least requires some evidence that the employer couldn’t hire a Canadian to do the job. The TPP lets big companies bypass even those meager safeguards. The labour mobility sections of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program on steroids,” McGowan said. “This deal would fundamentally transform the Canadian labour market for the worse by creating an underclass of exploitable workers with fewer rights.”

When the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership became available, the Alberta Federation of Labour hired top labour and trade lawyers to examine the deal. The strongly-worded brief is available at the following link: Legal Opinion Regarding TPP Labour Rights

“Chapter 12 of the TPP … is certain to make things much tougher for many Canadian workers by allowing both domestic and foreign companies to bring foreign workers to Canada to take jobs that Canadians are ready, willing, and able to fill,” says the legal opinion prepared for the AFL by the law firm Goldblatt Partners.  “If implemented, these effects will likely be immediate, severe in times of high unemployment, and because they will be entrenched in a multi-party international treaty, effectively irreversible.”

Fair Start Campaign urges Alberta to move toward a universal Early Childhood Education and Care system

Edmonton — The Alberta Federation of Labour has launched the Fair Start campaign, to lobby for universal Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Alberta. 

The multi-media campaign launched with a breakfast meeting of activists and allies on April 12, at which AFL Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond presented an overview of the research and arguments supporting the need for ECEC.

"Studies show that a child’s early years are some of the most important for the development and learning. We have a responsibility as a province to set them on the right track for life," Vipond said. "Universal access to early childhood care and education is a key component in our set of social programs that create a productive and healthy Alberta. By giving all children a fair start, we all benefit."

To date, the campaign has had meetings with close to 30 MLAs from across the political spectrum who represent ridings all over the province.

The AFL's campaign will continue over the next month with lobby meetings with Members of the Legislative Assembly, a website ( and concluding with public events in Calgary and Edmonton happening on Mother's Day.

Workers Compensation review a chance to make the system work better for workers
In March, the Government of Alberta announced a three-person panel would conduct a comprehensive review of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Workers-rights advocates, including the Alberta Federation of Labour, have been calling for this review for almost a decade.

The review will cover all aspects of workers’ compensation and be led by three respected labour-relations experts who have experience with both the employer and employee sides of the law. The AFL looks forward to participating in a collaborative process with all parties and to seeing improvements in legislation and policy.

“We hope that this comprehensive review will help the government refocus WCB on supporting workers so that both employers and employees can benefit from the system as it was originally designed.” Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer Siobhan Vipond said.

“Alberta’s workers’ compensation system has languished under years of neglect. This review is long overdue and desperately needed,” Vipond said. “The Workers’ Compensation Board was designed to get workers back to work healthy and whole. Because of outdated legislation it has too-often been unable to fulfill this role.                     

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  • Coal is responsible for 17 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Coal accounts for 43 per cent, or around 6,300 megawatts, of Alberta's total generation capacity of about 14,500 MWs.
  • 3,200 Albertans are directly employed in Alberta’s coal sector. 


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2016 AFL Mid-Term Forum

On May 13-14, the Alberta Federation of Labour will be hosting a mid-term forum titled “Labour and Alberta’s New Government: Challenges and Opportunities.” At the forum, a slate of expert speakers will be examining questions of how we should encourage the government to move forward on labour’s priorities.  

What: Mid-Term Forum

Where: Holiday Inn Express Downtown (10010 – 104 Street, Edmonton)  

When: Friday, May 13, 7:00 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 14, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.



  • May 13-14: AFL Mid-Term Convention
  • May 16-31: Coal Transition Coalition public meetings in: Grande Cache, Edson, Forestburg, Wabamun, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Hanna
  • May 8: AFL Mothers’ Day Events
  • August 8-12: AFL Kids Camp

April 1, 2016

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