Originally published in the Calgary Herald

The Alberta government is considering a series of reforms to workplace laws that could encompass everything from enhancing job-protected leaves to making it easier for workers to unionize.

The sweeping review, which aims to update the province’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code for the first time since 1988, is being applauded by representatives of organized labour who say Alberta lags behind other provinces when it comes to protections for workers. But business groups met Monday’s announcement with trepidation, arguing now is not the time to force rigid new requirements on the province’s recession-weary employers.

At a news conference Monday, Labour Minister Christina Gray said Alberta has fallen behind the rest of the country on a number of fronts when it comes to workplace legislation. For example, Alberta has the longest qualification period in Canada for job-protected leaves, including maternity and parental leave. Alberta is also one of the few provinces that has no government-protected provision for sick leave, and it has among the shortest compassionate-care leaves in Canada.