Tags: Building Strong Communities , Investing in Alberta’s Future , Providing Leadership & Accountability , Supporting Families

Posted on May 27, 2019


EDMONTON – Jason Kenney and the UCP are picking workers’ pockets by introducing legislation that cuts banked overtime, slashes holiday pay and rolls back youth wages, said Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley.  

The UCP’s Pick Your Pockets Bill, introduced today, allows employers to pay out banked overtime hours at straight time[1] instead of time-and-a-half. The proposal will take money out of the pockets of more than 400,000[2] Alberta workers, hitting workers in oil and gas and construction the hardest.[3][4]

“Instead of creating jobs, Jason Kenney’s first priority is to cut overtime pay for working people,” said Notley. “When Albertans bank their overtime hours to take some paid time-off with their families, they shouldn’t end up with less money in their bank accounts.”

Jason Kenney has claimed the move would “not affect or diminish overtime pay”[5], but under Alberta law, paid time off for banked overtime is considered wages and must be paid at time-and-a-half[6].

Changing that to straight time amounts to a wage cut. For example, an oil and gas worker putting in 10 overtime hours every week on a 12-week project would earn overtime pay for 120 hours. For that worker, the difference between banking those hours at time-and-a-half versus straight time is over $2,500[7].

An economist with the national branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees called the UCP proposal “shocking”, saying it hurts tradespeople.[8] A political scientist from Saskatchewan said the move would give employers “a way to defer wage costs.”[9]

The change also means Alberta would be out of line with the rest of Canada. B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Territories all require overtime to be banked at time-and-a-half[10].

“Albertans work hard and they deserve to earn the same overtime as other Canadians do,” said NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “Why does Jason Kenney believe Albertans deserve less?”

Banked overtime isn’t the only change that will hurt workers. The UCP is also proposing to implement a $2-per-hour wage cut to students between the ages of 13 and 17. The Alberta NDP Opposition strongly opposes the change as all workers deserve equal pay, regardless of their age or education status.

“The value of your work should depend on the effort and skill you put into it, not what year you were born,” said Gray. “This change will make it harder for teenagers who are often working to save up for their first car or put money away to pay for college. Vulnerable teenagers may even choose to drop out of school in order to earn a higher wage, which is very concerning.”

Changes to holiday pay would bring in an unfair distinction about regular versus non-regular work days. In every other province, including Saskatchewan and British Columbia, holiday pay is owed to workers regardless of whether it falls on the worker’s regularly scheduled day off.

“It means when Christmas falls on a Saturday, hard working parents here won’t get the extra pay to cover off presents for the kids but in Saskatchewan, they will,” said Gray. “It seems the new Alberta Advantage is just for the person who pays holiday pay, not the person who earns it.”

The Alberta NDP Opposition will not be supporting the legislation as written and is preparing a suite of amendments to ensure Albertans are not earning less under the UCP.


[1] Bill 2, The Open For Business Act.

[2] Statistics Canada, Employees working overtime (weekly) by industry (x 1,000) in Alberta: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410007601&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.10&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.2&pickMembers%5B2%5D=4.1&pickMembers%5B3%5D=5.1

[3] Statistics Canada, Employees working overtime (weekly) by industry in Alberta: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410007601&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.10&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.9&pickMembers%5B2%5D=4.1&pickMembers%5B3%5D=5.1

[4] Statistics Canada, Employee wages by industry in Alberta: annualhttps://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410006401&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.10&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.2&pickMembers%5B2%5D=3.1&pickMembers%5B3%5D=5.1&pickMembers%5B4%5D=6.1

[5] Twitter, @jkenney April 3, 2019: https://twitter.com/jkenney/status/1113464617869619200

[6] Page 28, Employment Standards Toolkit: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/es-employer-toolkit-highrez.pdf

[7] This scenario is based off data collected by Statistics Canada cited in [3] and [4]. The average oil and gas worker earning $43.59 per hour and working 10 hours of overtime every week on a 12-week project would see their wages differ by if all 120 hours are banked.

Current Alberta Law versus Proposed Bill 2:


OT Paid Out

OT Banked, Hours Paid Out

Current Alberta Law




Proposed Bill 2




Difference In Pay





[8] UCP promise of banked overtime pay cut draws criticism from labour experts, Edmonton Journal, April 2, 2019: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/ucp-promise-of-banked-overtime-pay-cut-draws-criticism-from-labour-experts

[9] UCP promise of banked overtime pay cut draws criticism from labour experts, Edmonton Journal, April 2, 2019: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/ucp-promise-of-banked-overtime-pay-cut-draws-criticism-from-labour-experts

[10] Alberta Labour, Cross-Jurisdictional Comparison of Overtime Rates, March 2017: https://work.alberta.ca/documents/cjc-overtime.pdf