Restaurants Canada welcomes UCP labour policy proposals

Published March 20, 2019

Restaurants Canada is encouraged by the series of reforms to Alberta’s employment laws that the United Conservative Party has committed to introduce under an Open for Business Act.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney unveiled this pre-election promise on March 15 at Edmonton’s Vienna Bakery — a family business that has gone from 24 to 16 staff as a result of new labour regulations and operational cost increases that it’s incurred since 2015.

The UCP’s proposed labour reforms would act on recommendations from Restaurants Canada to:

  • Freeze the minimum wage in Alberta until the minimum wage in other provinces reaches $15 per hour, then re-implement the annual minimum wage formula used prior to 2015 for increases going forward.
  • Permit lower differential rates for the following types of wages (as in other provinces):
    • A training wage for youth, recognizing the significant cost of hiring inexperienced employees
    • A liquor-serving wage, recognizing the significant gratuities earned by servers
  • Return to a regular/irregular workday distinction for calculating general holiday pay.
  • Implement a holiday pay qualifying period of 30 work days in the last 90 days of employment.
  • Conduct a review of all recent changes to labour legislation and regulations to restore fairness.

The Open for Business Act would:

  • Retain the general $15 minimum wage.
  • Introduce a Youth Job Creation Wage of $13.00 for workers who are 17 years of age or younger in order to incentivize the creation of first-time jobs for unemployed dependent teenagers.
  • Appoint a Minimum Wage Expert Panel to:
    • consult with workers, employers, and policy experts
    • analyse and publish all of the available economic data on the labour market impact of the NDP’s 50% increase in the minimum wage
    • assess whether hospitality industry workers who serve alcohol would likely generate higher net incomes (i.e. by working more hours) with a wage differential similar to those that exist in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia
  • Return to a regular / irregular workday distinction for calculating general holiday pay.
  • Return to a holiday pay qualifying period of 30 work days in the last 90 days of employment.
  • Return to allowing banked hours to be paid out at regular pay instead of time-and-a-half and review all regulations as part of the UCP Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, with the goal of reducing the regulatory burden on job creators by one third.

Click here to read the UCP’s news release about the proposed Open for Business Act.

Restaurants Canada sent a total of 16 policy recommendations to Alberta’s four major political parties on Jan. 14 in the hopes that they would be incorporated into all their platforms in the lead up to the next provincial election. A complete listing of these recommendations can be found at restaurantrealities.ca.

Restaurants Canada continues to look forward to working with all parties toward solutions that will improve realities for restaurants in Alberta.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada, at mark@restaurantscanada.org or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 6500.

Kartikey Bhargava

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