Saskatchewan takes aim at labour pains

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.



REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government has made changes to its labour legislation to make it simpler, more modern and accommodates the needs of today's workplace.

But critics say the overhaul could create some major labour headaches in one of Canada's fastest-growing labour markets.

With the new legislation set to be introduced Tuesday, Labour Minister Don Morgan didn't give away too many hints.

But he said that changes will only help ease the major labour shortage in Saskatchewan.

"I think it goes both ways, I think it might make it easier for employees who want to come here and hopefully a business will look at it and say, this is something we can work with, this is similar to what's taken place in other areas," he said.

NDP labour critic David Forbes said the changes to the legislation could create uncertainty and instability in the labour market at a time when the province needs labour consistency to help attract workers.

"This is a message that we heard over and over again in our own consultations in the fall that people felt that the current labour regime right now in terms of regulation and legislation was a big part of the economic boom - it's predictable, it's stable - people knew what the regulations were," Forbes said.

In May, Morgan announced a comprehensive review of 15 pieces of provincial labour legislation and asked the public to participate in a discussion paper. It included questions on a variety of labour-related issues, such as essential services legislation, union financial disclosure, notice requirements, collection of employees' wages after business closures, variable hours of work to meet needs of both employers and employees, and indexation of the minimum wage.

The government received more than 3,800 submissions before their end-of-July deadline and Morgan said all were taken into account when creating the new legislation.
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