Alberta’s renaming of labour ministry not a hit with labour group
New Alberta premier Danielle Smith has abolished the province’s Ministry of Labour and Immigration.
Instead, responsibility for employment standards, labour relations and occupational health and safety will be overseen by the new Ministry of Skilled Trades and Professions.
On Oct. 24, Kaycee Madu was sworn in as deputy premier and Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions.
It also has a Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development headed by Minister Brian Jean, who was also sworn in on Oct. 24. Previously, it was known as the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation.
“I am thrilled to be working with this strong, determined, united group of MLAs,” said Smith in announcing the reshuffle. “Alberta’s future is bright – but there’s a lot of work to be done. Our team will work every day to gain your trust, make bold changes and continue to build the most innovative, entrepreneurial and welcoming province in the world. I want to thank our entire team for their tireless dedication to Albertans and we’re looking forward to the days ahead.”
AFL shocked, disappointed by changes
But the changes aren’t being welcome by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL). President Gil McGown said he was shocked and disappointed by the move.
“Smith has made it clear that she cares about anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. She’s also made it clear that she cares about her friends in the business community who come looking for handouts and fewer regulatory constraints on their excesses,” said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.
“But with this move, she’s made it very clear she doesn’t care about Alberta workers, other than as units of production.”
McGowan dismissed arguments that the functions of the old labour ministry are simply being shifted over to the new ministries.
“Those new ministries only look at workers as units of production; cogs in the machine of business and the economy,” he said. “There’s no recognition that workers have rights and that they need protections in the workplace. They’re almost inviting employers to ignore standards and exploit workers.”
He said that the new premier either “doesn’t understand the need for rules to protect the rights of Albertans in the workplace, or she simply believes that there’s no role for government in curbing the excesses of employers in the workplace.”
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