Edmonton – A new report shows that Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act (2020) moves Alberta’s labour relations environment closer to the U.S. model to the detriment of workers in the province. A number of its provisions are unprecedented in Canada and much more closely reflect U.S. law that is tilted in favour of employers.
“Tipping the Balance: Bill 32, The Charter and the Americanization of Alberta’s Labour Relations System” by Parkland director and Athabasca University professor Jason Foster examines the bill with a focus on its broader implications for the rights of Albertans, the health of democratic debate in the province and potential economic consequences.
“The public perception is that the portions of Bill 32 dealing with labour relations only affect unions and their members,” said Foster. “However, this report suggests the bill’s potential consequences extend far beyond unions. Many of the bill’s provisions touch upon rights enjoyed by all working people and all Albertans generally. The bill has the potential to profoundly impact the direction of Alberta’s economy.”
The report finds that Bill 32:
- Undermines workers’ right to free expression through restrictions on picket activity and secondary picketing
- Interferes with the internal operations of private organizations
- Shifts rules regarding membership dues to an American-style approach that elevates individual freedom of speech at the expense of effective freedom of association
- Politically targets voices opposed to the government’s agenda to undermine their ability to participate in democratic debate
The report concludes that Bill 32 impacts more than just unions and their members. The consequences of changes like those in Bill 32 ripple out to all corners of society.
“All Albertans should be concerned at the prospect of charter-protected rights being undermined,” said Foster. “And all Albertans value and rely upon a healthy democracy where a multitude of voices can be heard.”
Online launch with forum
The report launch includes an online discussion between Jason Foster and Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta on July 15 at noon. Registration is free and open to everyone.
If you are interested in setting up an interview with Jason Foster or receiving an embargoed copy of the report, please contact:
Parkland Institute communications co-ordinator