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2018 Year in Review for Alberta

This year many new policies were implemented, and they are impacting your business.

Some initiatives may have helped your business but overall, the bad significantly outweighed the good. Here is an overview of 3 small business un-friendly policies in Alberta, and what our lobbying plans are to help mitigate the impacts they may have on your business.

Minimum wage

On October 1, 2018 the provincial minimum wage was increased by $1.40 to $15/hr, making Alberta the first province in Canada to reach that arbitrary target. CFIB released a research paper: How much will the cost of entry-level jobs go up in Alberta? , which showed that with a $15 minimum wage, an employer in Alberta will pay an additional $9,984 in wages - and that's not including the other payroll costs.

Thanks to your feedback on our surveys, our data shows that 76% of our members say they cannot continue to absorb this skyrocketing cost; 39% believe the minimum wage should be reduced to previous levels ($13.60), and 37% believe it should be frozen for the next 4 years. Clearly, there is a need for change. That’s why we are challenging all parties to be clear about what they would do to offset the impact of such steep increases in wage costs for employers who have entry level jobs.

Workers’ Compensation Board

In 2018, the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) announced there would not be a surplus rebate. For the WCB to issue a rebate, the funded position must exceed a high asset to liability ratio of 128%. Since, the board only reached a 127% ratio, this fell just under the threshold to trigger a refund.

In addition, the Minister of Labour mandated the board change several policy including by adding the Obligation To Reinstate (OTR), Interim Relief, and increasing Maximum Insurable Earnings.

CFIB recommends:

  • Decreasing the point at which a refund is triggered (currently it must exceed 128% in assets to liabilities)
  • Publishing actuarial data that would justify the current funding ratio
  • Examining the impact that costly new entitlements are having on employer premiums

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

New Occupational Health and Safety regulations came into effect on June 1, 2018. You should familiarize yourself with the changes, and can learn more here and don’t forget: if you have any questions, call or email Business Resources ([email protected] 1-888-234-2232)!

One particularly concerning OHS policy mandates businesses with 5 to 19 employees to appoint a Health and Safety Representative, and businesses with 20 or more employees to appoint a Health and Safety Committee. Representative(s) are required to take specialized safety training courses during business time. The Alberta government has still not published a full list of which training courses are approved. Currently the only approved program is an online introductory course which counts as two hours of credit. We continue to put pressure on the province to announce which courses are approved, and  have received assurances from that labour department that no business will be unfairly penalized businesses while the list of approved courses is being finalized.


As you know, a lot has happened in 2018. With an upcoming election in 2019, it is our priority to deliver your perspective to government and emphasize the importance of business-friendly policies in our province. Thank you for your ongoing support. Your comments and survey feedback are key to delivering this message. We will continue to fight to have the voice of independent business heard!

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