Posted on Nov 9, 2020
UCP ATTACKS INJURED WORKERS AND JEOPARDIZES ALBERTANS’ SAFETY
EDMONTON – Jason Kenney and the Alberta UCP are attacking injured workers and making Alberta worksites more unsafe under their dangerous Bill 47, experts say.
Last week, the UCP introduced changes to reduce entitlements in the Workers Compensation Act (WCB) and weaken the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) with Bill 47. These pieces of legislation govern the health and safety of every single worker in Alberta, and also ensure that workers and their families are fairly compensated after workplace injury.
The UCP’s bill lowers WCB compensation and removes several safety features of OHS.
“The changes proposed in this bill will mean hundreds of thousands of workers who are injured on the job, receive less compensation than they are entitled to today,” said Christina Gray, Alberta NDP Critic for Labour.
The changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act proposed in this bill will mean that self-employed contractors on construction sites will be responsible for their own safety on a site they have zero control over. Under the current OHS Act, self-employed contractors are protected while on a job site.
“No other jurisdiction does it this way. Why, in the middle of a pandemic, would we gamble with safety and implement a policy that could harm workers so fiercely?” said Gray.
Michael Dunn, a construction worker in Calgary, said the bill sacrifices workplace safety a time when workers need it the most.
“I know as well as anyone how much the Alberta job market has changed in the past decade. I’ve lived it,” said Dunn. “The changes I’ve read in this legislation make it clear that this government thinks working Albertans should just be happy to have a job, workplace safety and employee rights be damned, and are using every legal loophole at their vast disposal to turn our province into the most unfriendly market for workers in Canada.”
Bill 47 also sees amendments to allowing workers to refuse unsafe work. This has been crucial for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new legislation could consider the risk of catching COVID-19 on the job a ‘normal working condition.’
The bill, which did not solicit feedback from working Albertans, would take away the responsibility for employers to find meaningful work for employees when returning from an injury and also removes presumptive coverage for psychological injuries.
Last week when the Bill was tabled, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notely said “When our worker’s compensation system fails workers, it ruins lives. People lose everything they own. They suffer years of stress and hardship. And they almost never come back into the workforce in the same way. We will be fighting this bill on behalf of Alberta workers.”