Over the past year the Government of Alberta has been working towards a total overhaul of the legislation surrounding employers and workers. Reviews and legislation from employment standards, to Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB), to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) are coming thick and fast. The WCB and OHS Reviews in particular will reduce funds employers use to grow jobs and ensure safer worksites. Additionally, many of the proposed changes erode the collaborative role of employers as foundational partners in developing safer jobsites for workers.
ACA Chair Paul Heyens said, “”It really went further than the mandate. Some of these changes are moving towards a social support scheme.”
While the government may be trying to protect workers with these changes, they are creating undo stress on small and medium sized businesses that may collapse under the weight of new costs and regulations. One of the WCB review recommendations alone, if accepted, would see upwards of $500 million of employer’s excess premiums go into expanding government programs.
Getting things right for workers also means getting it right for their employers. Removal of employers as key partners in OHS and the WCB will create lasting damage to jobs and competitiveness. Changes that remove accountability and transparency, will not create more efficiency or effectiveness. But it will almost certainly make it more costly, more bureaucratic and less able to meet the needs of workers.
ACA represents 3200 member firms in commercial, industrial, and Institutional construction industry across Alberta. Construction employs one in nine working Albertans.