Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 13:24:23 -0500 From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <> Subject: File: DATABASE OUTPUT To: Haines Brown <BROWNH@CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU>

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> print 09254 >>> Item number 9254, dated 96/09/22 02:30:44—ALL
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 1996 02:30:44 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Privatized Labor Standards In Canada?

/** 227.0 **/
** Topic: Privatized Labr Standards In Canada? **
** Written 10:59 PM Sep 7, 1996 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: Privatized Labr Standards In Canada?

Alberta privatizes labor standards enforcement

Canadian Press, Edmonton Journal, 5 September 1996

EDMONTON—Alberta is planning to privatize enforcement of labor standards so workers claiming everything from unjust dismissal to inadequate maternity leave will have to take complaints to store-front operations.

Starting early next year, the Conservative government plans to cut most of its labor standards officers and pay private operators up to $200 for each labor complaint they investigate and resolve.

There will also be bonuses for agents who wrap up cases quickly.

Labor lawyers are balking at the prospect of for-profit shops with names such as Labor Laws Are Us.

They say the unprecedented move is akin to privatizing enforcement of human rights.

It will be like human rights in Russia used to be, Sheila Greckol, president of the Canadian Association of Labor Lawyers, said Wednesday.

They had a wonderful code that protected everyone's rights, but nothing ever happened. We would have in Alberta an employment standards code on the record with no effective means of enforcement.

The labor lawyers' association is threatening to file a complaint to a labor standards tribunal under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They say privatization will weaken enforcement of labor standards in Alberta and give the province an unfair trade advantage under the trade agreement.

In theory the Americans don't want a little banana republic like Alberta having absolutely no labor standards and giving Alberta that advantage in terms of trade, Greckol said.

She said the system of bonuses for fast service could lead to only superficial investigations.

Does that mean they can open the file, fill out a complaint, phone the employer, decide there was no merit to the complaint without doing any meaningful investigation, close the file and submit the bill to the department of labor?

The initiative is designed to cut the province's $2.7 million annual cost for labor standards enforcement, said a Labor Department spokeswoman.

It's consistent with the government's plan to move out into the private sector whenever it makes sense, said Charlotte Moran.

Privatization will also improve service because many people find the current system inaccessible and slow, said Joe Miller, spokesman for Labor Minister Murray Smith.

Government workers will still audit the shops and maintain the right to override decisions, he said.

The Conservative government has privatized everything from liquor stores to motor vehicles registries in the last three years.

Greckol supplied a copy of an internal memo from an Edmonton consultant dated July 15, which said the government's labor plan does not appear to be a realistic concept.

The lawyers' association is working with a group of labor lawyers in Washington since a complaint would have to be filed in the United States.

Whichever country lowers its standards, it's the other countries that have cause for complaint, said Jeffrey Sack, head of international affairs for the Canadian Association of Labor Lawyers.

He said there have been several labor complaints filed against Mexico, but this would be the first against Canada.