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Alberta workers now eligible for unpaid job-protected leave – Alberta COVID-19 update (April 6)

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Dr. Deena Hinshaw

From the Province of Alberta

Supporting Albertans during COVID-19

 

This is an extremely difficult time for all Albertans and temporary rules will be in place to provide job protection for workers and flexibility for employers during this pandemic.

Following direction and recommendations provided by the chief medical officer of health, employers have had to adjust operations significantly. The Government of Alberta is taking immediate action to allow employers to appropriately respond to public health measures and at the same time allow employees to remain attached to jobs and have the ability to access federal assistance programs.

“The health and safety of Albertans continues to be our top priority. The Government of Alberta is doing everything it can to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Changes to the Employment Standards Code will ensure Albertans can care for themselves and their loved ones during these challenging times, while providing flexibility to Alberta’s job creators.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration

“Our industry has been one of the hardest hit so far by COVID-19, with nearly two-thirds of our workforce now lost. These changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code will help food service businesses adapt as needed to the evolving public health situation so that they can remain operational during this extraordinarily difficult time. As Alberta’s third largest private sector employer, the 150,000 workers typically working in our industry depend on the ability of restaurants to be able to survive and recover from this crisis. These changes will build on our efforts to safeguard public health and ensure business continuity as much as possible. They will help provide the relief our job creators need to reopen and rehire once we get through this crisis.”

Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president, Western Canada – Restaurants Canada

Changes for employees

  • Employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19 will have access to unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day employment requirement is waived and leave length is flexible.

Changes for employees and employers

  • Increasing the maximum time for a temporary layoff from 60 days to 120 days to ensure temporarily laid off employees stay attached to a job longer. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17.

Changes for employers

  • Improving scheduling flexibility by removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes, and the two weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
  • Removing the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated.
  • Streamlining the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards so employers and workers can respond quicker to changing conditions at the workplace due to the public health emergency.

Duration

The changes above take effect immediately and will be in place as long as government determines it is needed and the public health emergency order remains.

Alberta has a comprehensive response to COVID-19 including measures to enhance social distancing, screening and testing. Financial supports are helping Alberta families and businesses.

Red Deer College exercising an “abundance of caution” after person in college community tests positive for COVID-19

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed

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Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.

West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.

The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.

In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.

Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.

The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Alberta

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

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From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd 

By David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles

That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.  

Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.” 

Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.   

Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.” 

The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway. 

Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.  

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion. 

How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?  

After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway. 

Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.  

That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees. 

Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs. 

But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast. 

That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved. 

As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less. 

Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.  

The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”  

Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction. 

But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments. 

The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48. 

Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.  

In the same country! 

Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility. 

What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries. 

But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada. 

Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity. 

As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.  

In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.  

Norway and Qatar only have one. 

While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.  

Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.  

Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions. 

David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of  From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. 

 

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