Late yesterday evening the UCP government invoked closure to end debate and quickly pass Bill 47, their regressive workplace health and safety legislation
EDMONTON – In what has become a pattern for the Kenney government, the UCP once again used their majority to implement closure, ending debate on another controversial piece of legislation, this time Bill 47, the so-called Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act.
“Here we go again. Jason Kenney is using his majority government to trample on our democracy and ram his unpopular, regressive agenda through the legislature,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “Governments that are proud of their legislation don’t limit the ability to debate and amend it, they don’t push it through late at night, and they sure as heck don’t do it under the cover of a global pandemic.”
Bill 47 hollows out workplace health and safety rights including weakening the right to know, reducing the right for workers to participate, and limiting the right to refuse unsafe work. The legislation also makes changes that will save money on the backs of injured workers, by capping Worker’s Compensation benefits, attacking cost of living increases, and no longer requiring that employers reinstate injured workers once they are ready to return to work.
"Bill 47 is another attack on Alberta workers. It will put them at risk in more unsafe workplaces and mean less compensation for those workers hurt or killed on the job,” said McGowan. “The right to refuse has been crucial for workers to ensure a safe workplace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Attacking a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work is unconscionable at any time, but doing so during the ongoing pandemic is downright dangerous.”
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Kenney government has taken lessons from “disaster capitalism” around the world. Their behavior shows that they see the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to push through their extreme ideological agenda while the public is distracted by the crisis at hand.
“There is a global pandemic underway, but you wouldn’t know it the way the UCP government has been behaving,” said McGowan. “The Kenney government should be laser focused on addressing the devastating impact COVID-19 is having here in Alberta, yet instead they have been busy cutting and privatizing, selling our parks, picking fights with health care workers and doctors, and rolling back the rights of working Albertans."
“With the ramming through of Bill 47, it is clear that Jason Kenney and his UCP government are not on the side of working Albertans,” concluded McGowan.
Communications Director, AFL