Labour Bytes: October 2016

Labour Bytes


Urgent Action

Say 'no' to pay-for plasma schemes

Private clinics profiting off blood plasma are bad for the workers, families and communities of Alberta.

We ask that Alberta move ahaed as both Ontario and Quebec have done in banning pay-for-plasma clinics and any similar organizations. 

Alberta does not need pay-for-plasma clinics. Instead we need solid social programs that provide safety nets for all people and we need a solid healthcare system, including pharmacare, to ensure people have access to the healthcare they need.

Action: Print, sign and return the petition to Friends of Medicare: 


Action: Inform your colleagues, friends, and business associates about the problems associated with pay-for-plasma schemes and ask them to sign the petition.

Decision to bring diagnostic labs back into system a victory for Albertans

Alberta’s provincial government is putting patients first by returning diagnostic lab services to the public health care umbrella.

On Friday, it was reported that the Government plans for Alberta Health Services to buy out the private laboratory testing company DynaLIFE Dx and transfer the services back to the province. This will mark an end to the expensive experiment with privatization of diagnostic services in Alberta.

“Public delivery of public services is best for the public purse. But more importantly, it’s what’s best in terms of patient safety,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “We commend the New Democrat Government of Alberta for finding a solution to the mistakes of the previous government.”

The purchase of the DynaLIFE Dx labs is the end of the Tories third failed attempt to privatize lab services in the province, going back to Ralph Klein’s outsourcing in the mid-1990s.

“You would have thought the Conservatives could have learned from their mistakes. One disastrous attempt to privatize is a mistake. A second attempt is stubbornness. The third time reeks of ideological inflexibility,” McGowan said. “Contracting out necessary services to for-profit third party providers costs taxpayers more, decreases oversight, and is inefficient. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

On October 1, Alberta took an important step towards an equitable minimum wage

On October 1, Alberta’s minimum wage was increased to $12.20 an hour for all workers – including liquor servers who had previously suffered a lower-minimum. This is the first step in a plan to bring the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

This will improve the lives of the 135,000 Albertans who are currently earning minimum wage, brings hope to the more than 340,000 people who are earning less than $15/hour, and is a major victory for progressive Albertans who don’t believe that any of our fellow citizens should be living in poverty.            

“When there are hundreds of thousands of workers who aren’t earning enough to get by, that hampers the economy,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “The idea that a higher minimum wage would boost the economy, rather than harm it, is not a radical idea. Mainstream economists have been making this argument for years. And it’s borne out by the evidence.”

Research released by the Alberta Federation of Labour shows that the increased consumer spending that would result from a $15 minimum wage would amount to a $900 million boost to the Alberta economy over three years.

Show your support for increasing the minimum wage by writing a letter to your MLA at the website 

AFL condemns Liberal report on Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Edmonton - A parliamentary committee report tabled today about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program shows that the Trudeau Liberals are not likely to curb the exploitation of guest workers.

The report, which was tabled by the Standing Committee on Human Resources Skills and Social Development, is the result of a review that Trudeau Liberals had promised in order to solve problems with the scandal-ridden guest worker program. Rather than tackling the serious issues with how the program drives down wages and puts Canadians out of work, the committee’s recommendations mostly deal with carving out exemptions and undermining the few safeguards that exist.

“When it comes to the exploitation of guest workers and the use of guest workers to drive down wages and displace Canada workers, the Liberals approach might actually be worse than the Conservative approach,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “The report confirms that the Liberals have committed themselves to maintaining, and indeed growing, a two-tier labour market, with a top tier of Canadians and permanent residents who have full rights, and a lower tier of guest workers who don’t.”

Four of the report’s 21 recommendation are about removing or limiting the requirement for employers to prove that they’ve looked for Canadians first. Another recommendation of the report targets existing caps on what proportion of a labour force can be hired through the TFWP, suggesting that the current caps be raised to at least 20 per cent regardless of the local unemployment rate.

Did you know...

  • Alberta’s GDP jumped 0.5 per cent in July, building on a 0.6 per cent hike in June. 
  • TD Bank forecasts that Alberta will lead the country in growth for the next two years.
  • Alberta’s minimum wage remains low compared to the average wage and the median wage.  
  • The minimum wage issue is not about mom-and-pop shops; the majority of minimum wage earners – 58.5 per cent – work for employers that have 100 or more employees


  • November 14 - 18: Advanced Facilitator Training course in Edmonton. Register Here
  • October 17 - Just Transition and Alberta's Coal Phase-Out panel discussion. Register Here 


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