Bill 17 to End Alberta’s Exploitation of Persons with Disabilities
EDMONTON – May 26, 2017
Inclusion Alberta commends the Alberta government for ensuring, within Bill 17 – Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act – that the Employment Standards section allowing individuals with disabilities to be employed at less than minimum wage will be repealed in its entirety. Although this section of the Employment Standards Code had not been utilized for over 10 years, the fact it remained in law was a continuing insult to the dignity and rights of individuals with disabilities. Previous governments had committed to removing this offensive section but had not acted on that promise.
Alberta’s Employment Standards Code has permitted people with disabilities, for decades, to be employed at less than minimum wage. In defeating the very essence of the purpose of a minimum wage to align human dignity with an individual’s labour, this Section of Alberta’s Employment Standards also reflected the historical devaluation of people with disabilities.
This section of the Employment Standards was also an insult to Alberta’s business community in suggesting that it would not employ people with disabilities if it had to pay a fair and decent wage. Barb MacIntyre, Inclusion Alberta President and whose son with developmental disabilities is employed, stated, “For over 30 years Inclusion Alberta has been securing inclusive employment for individuals with developmental disabilities, on average, above minimum wage and never lower. Our more recent partnerships with Rotary, municipalities and the business community have created almost 450 inclusive employment opportunities, as well, on average above minimum wage and never lower.”
As Bill 17 is a government Bill, Albertans with disabilities, their families, friends and allies are assured of its passage and welcome the end of an outdated and deplorable section of the Employment Standards Code.
Now we require action. Bruce Uditsky, Inclusion Alberta CEO whose son with developmental disabilities is a valued employee in an Edmonton business, said, “Without a commitment to advance the employment of individuals with disabilities, this portion of Bill 17 will be an important but symbolic act. Our partnerships have the capacity to create more jobs, but we require additional resources to sustain this growth.” The Alberta government itself must become a leader in the inclusive employment of individuals with developmental and other disabilities and increase funding to sustain and advance the creation of employment opportunities in community.
For more information contact: