Labour Bytes: March 2016

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AFL exposes risks of right-wing budget proposals 

Edmonton – The Alberta Federation of Labour released an independent economic analysis showing that the kind of austerity measures favoured by the Wildrose party would create a second recession in Alberta – with 38,000 jobs lost, on top of the jobs already lost to low oil prices.

Wildrose austerity measures would also shrink the economy by $10 billion per year in 2017 and 2018.

“This isn’t the time to add to Alberta’s unemployment woes by returning to hack-and-slash budgeting,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Laying off teachers and nurses won’t bring back jobs lost in the energy sector; it will only mean more unemployed Albertans. The austerity prescriptions offered by the Wildrose won’t end the recession; they’ll make it worse.”

The report “Austerity vs. Renewal,” was prepared by Hugh MacKenzie & Associates, a national consulting firm that specializes in public accounts and budgeting. The report calculates how many public service jobs would have to be cut to fulfill Wildrose budgetary proposals, and then shows the dramatic impact those job losses would have on the provincial economy.

The report shows that Wildrose layoffs would directly affect 22,000 workers from the government and arms-length agencies, with an additional 16,000 jobs lost indirectly from government suppliers and from businesses that rely on business from government workers.

Overall, the report says this would shrink the Alberta economy by more than $10 billion per year in 2017 and 2018.

Read the report “Austerity vs. Renewal” HERE.

Canadians cannot allow business lobbyists to dominate discussion of guest-worker program

Edmonton – On Thursday, February 18, it was announced that the federal government will launch a full-scale review of the deeply flawed Temporary Foreign Worker Program. MaryAnn Mihychuk, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, has asked a parliamentary committee for proposals as to how to fix the program.

The Alberta Federation of Labour, one of the most prominent voices in the fight against the TFWP, is working to ensure that the needs of everyday workers will be heard in the review.   
“Canadian workers cannot let business do all the talking when the government asks questions about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “Because we know what business wants, and we know that they’ll lobby hard for easier access to exploitable workers they can push around.”

The AFL has conducted extensive research into the use and abuse of the guest worker program, has exposed the wrongdoing of employers, and shown how the program has undermined the rights of guest workers and Canadians alike. Because of the Alberta Federation of Labour’s efforts, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper was forced to impose some modest reforms to the program. 

“There are still major problems with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Employers still use it to avoid paying decent wages; workers still face wage theft and abuse; it still acts as an impediment to young Canadians working on apprenticeships,” McGowan said. “This review could be a chance to fix some of those problems. Or it could be a chance for the government to re-open the cheap labour floodgates.” 

Whistleblower protection must cover private sector

Edmonton – Whistleblower protection in Alberta should be extended to all workers regardless of whether they are in the public or private sector.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act — which is supposed to protect workers who come forward with information about wrongdoing — is currently in the middle of a legislative review, with amendments expected for the fall sitting of the legislature. In a submission to the legislative review panel, the AFL recommended strengthening the act, and adopting best practices from around the world.

 “Many Albertans work in potentially dangerous and risky workplaces in the private sector. Undisclosed wrongdoings present the potential for massive economic and environmental damage. That’s why effective whistleblower protection for private-sector workers is particularly important here in a province with a thriving petrochemical industry,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “Without whistleblower protection, practices that squander public dollars, threaten the environment and cheat consumers continue without remedy.”

The Federation of Labour’s submission offered recommendations including:
  •   Extending the act so that it covers all workers regardless of whether they are in the public or private sector.
  •   Making sure workers in vulnerable, precarious or non-traditional jobs are protected by the act.
  •   Ensuring that it’s easier for workers to report wrongdoing — and that there is someone they can safely report to.
  •   Requiring the Public Interest Commissioner to report on the number and nature of disclosures he has received.
  •   When the Public Interest Commissioner decides not to pursue an investigation, requiring him to provide a reason.
  •   Making the legislation enforceable, with stiff penalties for employers who conduct reprisals against whistleblowers.

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  •  In Alberta, only 19 per cent of children aged five and younger have access to a regulated child care space.

  • Alberta is second-last among Canadian provinces for number of regulated spaces per child. 

  • Alberta parents of preschoolers pay the second-highest fees in Canada.

  • Ontario and Quebec offer junior and early kindergarten programs in communities where children are from low-income backgrounds. Alberta does not.

  • Alberta is one of only four provinces with have part-day kindergarten. All other provinces have full-day kindergarten.

  • Alberta spends more than $185 million each year on parent subsidies for child care. In many cases, we don’t know what kind of educational quality we get for our investments.

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Join the AFL Child Care Lobby Day

Alberta is a modern, progressive province, and it is time to take a modern, progressive approach to child care and early learning.

On Tuesday, April 12, the Alberta Federation of Labour will be hosting a lobby day on Child Care, in which we will be inviting members of our affiliated unions to speak with their MLAs and to highlight the importance of affordable child care.

Attendees will get a chance to directly engage with the political process and to learn more about the need for affordable child care.

For more information and to register, please contact Maureen at

The Alberta Federation of Labour is a registered lobbyist in the Province of Alberta

Celebrate International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, Edmonton women and supporters are proud to join the millions who march around the world to call for an end to the exploitation and oppression of all women.

This year, we are continuing the tradition of International Women's Day as a day born out of working class women's struggle, by taking to the streets on Sunday March 6 at 1 p.m. at Gazebo Park in Edmonton. Following the rally and march, we will gather at the Westbury Theatre in the Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave.) for a cultural forum and a light meal.

We are also excited to invite you to a second event, a dinner and discussion at the Maharaja Banquet Hall on Tuesday, March 8. 

This discussion will form the basis for our committee to transition from an ad-hoc committee which comes together to organize IWD events to on ongoing organization working year round to educate, organize and mobilize working class women.

What: International Women’s Day March
When: 1 p.m., Sunday, March 6
Where: Gazebo Park (Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park) 83 Ave. + 104 St.

Link to Women’s Day Poster HERE.


  • March 8:  International Women's Day
  • April 12:  Child Care Lobby Day
  • May 13-14:  AFL Mid-Term Forum, Edmonton


March 1, 2016

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