Alberta Foundation of Labour
Unions working together to make Alberta a better place
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is a voluntary association of unions and employee organizations that have banded together to achieve common goals.
Since 1912, when unionized miners and tradespeople from southern Alberta first agreed to work together under the umbrella of a labour central, the Federation has fought hard to improve conditions for working people, their families and their communities.
Among the Federation’s earliest priorities were ending child labour and establishing occupational health and safety regulations (OHS) — especially in Alberta’s coal fields which, at the time, had the highest workplace mortality rates in the world. In its early years, the AFL was also active in the struggle for a minimum wage and the reduction of work time to a standard eight-hour work day.
Today, the Federation continues its tradition of speaking out on the issues that matter most to working people which means standing up to Premier Jason Kenney and the current United Conservative Party (UCP) government which are not only cutting funding to public services including health care and education but also rolling back many health and safety regulations.
Right now, the UCP is using Bill 47, the so called Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, to make worksites less safe by cutting OHS, make it more difficult for injured workers to get workers’ compensation (WCB) benefits and make it easier to kick injured workers off benefits, all to increase employers’ profits.
One of the biggest changes the UCP has made for workers accessing benefits is cutting off certain workers from presumptive coverage for psychological injuries. Prior to the UCP changes, for any worker who experienced a traumatic event (or series of events) at work, and was diagnosed by a physician or psychologist as having a psychological injury, it was presumed the injury happened at work. If an employer could demonstrate the injury did not happen at work, the worker would not receive coverage for this injury.
Under the new UCP changes, only certain frontline workers are given presumptive coverage, specifically firefighters, paramedics, police and peace officers, and emergency dispatch workers. All other workers have to argue to have their injuries compensated – even if they go through the exact same traumatic experience along with these front-line workers.
The UCP have gone so far as to brag that this change alone will take an estimated $230 million from away from workers over the next 3 years.