Update October 19, 2018
Letter from ALIGN Association to The Honorable Rachel Notley Re: Bill 17 and Bill 30
The Honorable Rachel Notley,
We want to commend you on leading your party, as government, for a full term and look forward to another term of the NDP next spring. We appreciate your efforts in implementing a number of initiatives for the human services sector and the vulnerable Albertans we serve. As you are aware, ALIGN represents a number of agencies that contract with Children Services to provide a range of services from community support to campus based residential treatment care and everywhere in between. ALIGN also represents Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) agencies.
Over the last year, implementation of Bill 17 and Bill 30 have had some unforeseen and unintended consequences for workers in this sector. While the intention is admirable, the added costs of providing service with respect to the changes required in each piece of legislation are unintentionally prohibitive. ..Read Full Letter
Excerpt: Bill 17 – The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act
We have been working along with Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS) and Alberta Home Visitation Network Association (AHVNA) and the Ministries of Community and Social Services, Children’s Services and Labour to explore regulatory options to changes in overtime requirements in Bill 17. During that time, numerous options were explored and some moments of frustration occurred as well as conflicting information and false starts. We have advocated for the flexibility required to manage the issue. Through meeting with the three Deputy Ministers we have arrived at a confirmation that the existing Caregiver Exemption should be interpreted broadly and applied to most direct service roles across Child Intervention, Home Visitation, PDD and FSCD. As a result of our negotiations and the legislative requirements, and nature of staffing for 24/7 operations, there has been significant added costs for statutory pay and overtime. Many agencies have had to stop offering… Read Full Letter
Excerpt Bill 30 – An Act to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Working Albertans
We continue to discuss the impact and concerns related to changes to OHS requirements in Bill 30 with Ministry officials at Community and Social Services, Children Services and Alberta Labour including the human resource, administrative and financial impacts. Those issues include OHS expectations related to violence, right to refuse work, supervisory expectations and Health and Safety Committees. Although we support the intent and spirit of the legislation it has created some unexpected financial hardships. We have shared our concerns with ministry officials regarding these requirements and the challenges regarding recruitment, retention and training needs as well as the potential for an employer to have numerous smaller “worksites”. Alberta Labour has confirmed that..Read Full Letter
Update Sept 24, 2018
Update from E.D. Rhonda Barraclough
There have been some consequences as a result of the fair and family friendly workplaces the government passed Bill 17 legislation. We have received official notice that the agencies who provide services for the Ministry of Community and Support Services will receive financial support for the minimum wage and statutory holiday costs. My understanding is that our contract managers will be asking you to fill in a template to help gather information. For Children Service’s there have been no official announcements but I believe they are working on gathering information relating to statutory holidays in an effort to compensate contracted agencies. I do not know how this will affect Fee for Service providers. You may want to make sure you have had conversations with the contract managers in the regions.
Update August 1, 2018
Employment Standards in Alberta – Averaging Agreements Aug 29, 2018 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Employment Standards in Alberta – Hours of Work and Pay Aug 30, 2018 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Employment Standards in Alberta – General Holidays, General Holiday Pay and Vacations Sep 11, 2018 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Overview of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code Sep 27, 2018 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Update July 19, 2018 Bill 17/Budget 2018/2o19
Dear ALIGN Members:
Once again I am asking for information on your financial situation and how Bill 17 has impacted you. The Ministry of Children Services has been asking about the pressure points and where they may need to focus their allocation from the budget. In order to advocate on your behalf in the right direction I need help from you.
As you are all aware there was an allocation of money in the Children Services Budget for contracted agencies. On budget day we were told the amount and the way it will be distributed would be announced later.
Now we have been asked by government for some information that will allow them to focus the allocation of money. They are trying to determine the most impact for the dollars and wonder what is needed most at this time. They are specifically interested in Bill 17 impacts.
I have been asked to survey you again. I will do that with a reminder that “no information equals – no problem”. So I really encourage you to answer the questions as silence also means things are all ok. If you cannot answer or feel that you have negligible impacts please just send me a quick note saying that.
- What sector do you provide most of your services in? Contract foster care; group care; EI; kinship care, family support, youth work
- Now that we are 6 months into this year can you tell us what impact the statutory holiday pay has had? What did you pay out in 2017 vs 2018?
- Can you tell the difference in your Overtime costs? 2017 vs. 2018? What is it?
- Have you made different agreements with your staff to offset payout costs to staff for overtime? For example some agencies no longer allow taking time off, they will only pay out overtime
- What other drivers are your financial pressures a result of?
- How are you managing the financial pressures? Have you closed services or deceased services?
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, if you have any questions, please send me an email
Please fill in the questions and send them back to me, Rhondab@alignab.ca. I need to have them back by August. 1, 2018.
Executive Director, ALIGN
Update June 12, 2018 Caregiver Employment Standards Exceptions
E.D. Rhonda Barraclough
In May, Bruce and I attended a meeting with the Deputy Minister Jeff Parr of Minister of Labour, DM Darlene Bowsema of Children Services , DM Shannon Marchand of Community and Support Services, and some of their senior staff. At that meeting we were told that the Caregivers Regulation will apply in all cases of residential care/24 hour operation and crisis support – like CSD workers or contract foster care agencies with emergent situations. Below is a link to a flow chart that will help make those decisions as to when it is appropriate or not to use this regulation for your staffing models.
AM I A CAREGIVER ? is now available on Alberta Labour Standards Website: Caregivers – Employment Standards Exceptions
There are special provisions to the rules outlined in the Employment Standards Code for home care and residential care employees.
This tool reflects the standards for caregivers that have been in place for several years. These rules were not amended by the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act and it is my hope that by sharing this tool we may be able to address any confusion going forward. To assist in clarifying their application for employers in your sector, I encourage you to share with your association members and sector colleagues
Lenore Neudorf, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy and Policy Labour, Government of Alberta June 11, 2018Update Regarding Bill 17 – E.D. Rhonda Barraclough June 7, 2018
Update June 6, 2018
Alberta Health and Safety News June 2018
The following new bulletins will help guide you through the new legislative requirements. Lots of new information and resources!
Update May 17, 2018
New ALIGN OHS related training and resources spring 2018
New Resources Spring 2018
Alberta Labour in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has developed a free introductory course for Alberta residents to help committee co-chairs and representatives
Learn about changes to Alberta’s OHS Act through interactive webinars.
OHS Publications Online Store contains OHS bulletins, fact sheets, manuals and other health and safety documents for workers, employers and prime contractors.
Do you need a joint work site health and safety committee or representative on multiple work sites?
Alberta Government Health and Safety eNews Special Edition 2018
As you know, last fall the Government of Alberta made important changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These changes provide Albertans with the same rights that Canadians across the province already had ,and were the first significant updates in decades. On June 1, those changes will come into force. If you have questions, go to Ask An Expert or call the Contact Centre toll-free at 1-866-415-8690.
Posted April 17, 2018
We have not provided an update since March and feel it necessary to do so. We were fairly optimistic that we had an agreement with the Ministry of Labour as to how to provide some flexibility for the 24/7 operations and the crisis driven intervention work. Under Bill 17 if the agencies are to work as defined in the legislation it would decrease the ability for staff to flex their time and the agencies would have to put restrictions on work schedules due to the overtime costs, and that is not in the best interest of the families those agencies are contracted to serve. At this time our optimism is waning.
We have been waiting for a response from the Ministry of Labour (since March) and to date we have not received one. The staff has been changed there as well so it is frustrating to figure out who is doing what. Our partners in the Ministry of Children Services are just as frustrated.
We recognize that this delay is likely increasing your overtime costs or alternatively decreasing service. We also remind you that there have been no variances or regulation changes made therefore by the letter of the law you should be complying with what it says. If this is creating a hardship to your agency or your families, we encourage you to speak with your contract managers and us. Send us a note as we are sending the example to the Ministry of CS and Labour so they are aware of the challenges.
Bruce and I are I meeting with the Deputy Minister to speak with her about this issue.
I terms of funding. We are trying to figure out what the budget has to offer agencies and for what. This will take some time.
In order to assess and advocate accurately we will be sending out a request for further information with respect to the impacts of Bill 17. WE STRONGLY URGE YOU TO RESPOND. We will be asking – what is your cost of statutory pay this year over last year for the first quarter of the year? What is your actual cost of overtime last year and this year for the first quarter? Did you have any increases in your contract? Did you discuss the added costs of Bill 17 with your contract manager? If so, what was the outcome of that discussion?
It is really important that you send us the information we are asking for. It is difficult to discuss these issues without real information and numbers, as we are constantly asked for them.
If you have any questions please email me Rhondab@alignab.ca or call 780 233.5459
We met again with the Ministry of Labor folks and are on a slightly altered path. For all the residential programs, they have agreed that everyone fits under the Caregivers regulation. As many of you had pointed out this is what people were using prior to the legislation changes. I have asked that the Ministry write that clearly within the employment standards fact sheets or in some other clear way.
For the outreach/crisis driven work the primary rationale for the changes would be to allow the sector to respond appropriately to emergency/crisis situations that fall outside of the predictable work day. The following proposal is to amend the Employment Standards Regulation to:
- define a category of employment in relation to the provision of “individual and family support services” as funded by the Ministries of Children Services and Community and Social Services in relation to fulfilling requirements of program –specific legislation (legislation to be identified e.g. Family Support for Children’s with Disabilities Act);
- Establish a daily overtime threshold of 12 hours in a day;
- Propose of 176 hours in a 4 week period before overtime entitlements are calculated; and
- Provide an exemption from requirements of the Code around “notice of work times” including notification of schedule changes (section 17 of the Code) to enable scheduling of work within parameters approved by the employer (this supports the ability for employers and employees to structure work schedules suited to the clients/families they are providing care to
- The employer will need to keep records of when staff do work
- No special rules are proposed for general holidays.
- No special rules are proposed for averaging agreements since the changes above will have the effect of allowing employers and employees to manage their hours of work within the month (in effect allowing averaging).
The proposal of a 176 hour threshold for determining overtime entitlements over a four week period better aligns with the 44 hour per week threshold in place for most employers in other industries
There are some expectations of who has to support this direction and we need to get those in writing. Once that has been completed then there is a formal approval cycle that this request has to go through.
Again if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Rhonda Barraclough ALIGN Association E.D RhondaB@alignab.ca
Bruce and I have been working away with the Ministry of Labor to address some of the urgent needs of the sector as a result of Bill 17. Essentially there needs to be a variance or regulation change in order for the 24/7 operations and the crisis/ flexible family intervention driven services to be able to manage within legal work agreements.
We have come to a place now where we need to have a letter of support from the Association. The Board of Directors have been briefed and are in support of a letter written on behalf of ALIGN to go forward to continue this work. It essentially will support the following:
- The variance or regulation will create a category of employees defined as those funded by the Ministries of Children’s Services or Community and Social Services to deliver individual and family support services in relation to the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, and the Persons for Developmental Disabilities Act. ( this includes residential/group care; specialized services; family intervention and therapeutic crisis type workers);
- Establish a daily overtime threshold of 12 hours per day and 184 hours in a four week (no weekly threshold) for this group and exempt those from the requirements of Section 17 of the ES Code (Notice of Work Times) The exemption from Section 17 will allow employees to schedule their own hours within the work month with employer approval. A work month means a calendar month or a period of time from a specific day in a month to the same day in the following month as established by the consistent practice of the employer. (This is inclusive of those job categories above. It provides for flexible scheduling and for 24/7 day week operation. Please note this replaces any other regulation you may have been working with prior like the caregivers regulation. It is different but essentially makes similar hours of work possible)
Once support for these 2 areas is received from the Associations and the unions. Then the Ministry of Labor will move forward to the Minister to ask for a variance or regulation for our sector. Once that is agreed to there will need to be some work on employee engagement and agreement. How that is to be done is still not determined.
If you have any questions or concerns about this please let us know as soon as possible. The letter going forward will be written and sent by the end of this week.
Rhonda Barraclough Executive Director RhondaB@alignab.ca 780.233.5459 9 cell
February 12, 2018 Correspondence Letter From ALIGN E.D. re: Bill 17
ALIGN Letter to Premier Re Bill 17 February 12 2018
By now you are aware that we have been advocating in support of the impacts of Bill 17. I want to give just a quick update.
We have been working in 2 areas:
1. Financially- we have been advocating that there needs to be increases in contracts for, at the very least, the holiday/vacation pay increases that agencies have to incur as a result of the new legislation. We have shown both Ministries (CS & CSS) a sampling of the costs from those of you that sent them in. We have also shown the costs of overtime as they stood in December. Many of you have probably rearranged your staffing models and worked with your staff to manage the costs associated in this area. We have made it very clear that in those areas where overtime is not avoidable the costs are extremely high.
2. Variance or regulation changes to Bill 17 – In order to make changes we have to show that there is a business driver for change and then be able to make a case for that change along with some solutions about how to make it. The government made it clear that any variance/regulation would need to be sought out by the Association on behalf of the agencies or by agencies themselves. They preferred that we do it collectively. As a result ALIGN and ACDS are working together to achieve one or the other.
We have made a business case that we need a variance/regulation change that covers the crisis nature of the work and the 24/7 operations (group homes, crisis nursery, family support workers, specialized 1:1 workers as examples). We have made a suggestion that a regulation or variance similar to the section 9 caregiver regulation that health currently has would be helpful. In principle there is agreement. We are awaiting a draft.
We are also seeking a definition of scheduled work – as we have explained why having a schedule is not how many service delivery sites providing service to families/ individuals when and where they need it. You can then develop your work site agreements based on this.
The other area we still need direction on is the live-in 24-hour shifts. We are asking about them and if they can be accommodated in this regulation/variance.
Currently the Caregivers Regulation for overtime is hours over 12 in a day and 264 in a month. We are currently looking at overtime pay on hours over 12 in a day and between 184 and 200 (still to be determined) in a one month period, labor will not allow us to go to 264. Most group homes currently work on a 12 week schedule. Knowing the maximum hours your residential/group care staff work in a month would be helpful. Concurrently we need to know know
which agencies have a Union and in their collective agreement what are the hours where overtime is paid.
What comes next is figuring out how we get general consensus from the staff. We need to have majority support. Which means that you as executive directors will need to talk to your staff once we have something for you to view and think about, then quickly talk with them, and somehow ( yet to be determined) we need to have assurance that staff are in agreement.
As we work with the Ministry of Labor and Ministries of Children Services and Community & Support Services, we have also written to the Minister of Finance and the Premier outlining the concerns with the legislation and the need for funding to cover these costs. View additional correspondence below.
This is ongoing work. I will update you as we make progress and when we need you to take some action.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me RhondaB@alignab.ca or call 780 233 5459.
February 6, 2o18 Correspondence
Dear Premier Notley:
RE: Bill 17, Fair and Family-friendly Workplace Act and the human services sector
ALIGN Association of Community Services ( formerly AASCF) is a membership organization of agencies that contract to government through the Ministries of Children Services and Community and Support Services to provide services to vulnerable individuals, families and children involved within the human services sector. Bill 17 certainly is a renewed and revised standard for employers and for the most part truly is progressive.
We do want to draw to your attention that for agencies that provide contracted services (i.e. 24/7 services in residential care, 1:1 specialized services for high needs individuals; and for the family support workers who provide crisis work) this Legislation is prohibitive to their staff and we require variances to have staff available for those vulnerable Albertans. Hours of work averaging agreements are problematic as they require schedules that the employee must work and in the crisis driven nature of the work that is not feasible. We will be asking for variance in this to accommodate that time and to decrease the burden of overtime. We are currently working with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministries of Community Support Services and Children Services to see if we can get that variance. The reason this is important is because many people choose this line of work because it has been very flexible and fits with their family life, the restrictions in the legislation makes that more difficult for this helping profession as the agencies no longer can afford to accommodate staff in way they have before.
Unfortunately there was no consultation with the sector before the legislation was passed. As a result, it would be very helpful if there was a way to get an exemption to this part of the legislation now for 6 months while we work on the variances necessary so agencies are not outside of the law or having to pay huge amounts of funds in overtime to be compliant. As the legislation is written, the Ministries are not able to ask for the variances so it has been determined that the Associations (ALIGN and Alberta Council of Disabilities Services) must work towards these. This is not an easy task as we were not aware of these changes and challenges prior to January 1, 2018. We are only barely able to accommodate this work as there are many outstanding questions that the government needs to answer as we move forward. None of this is fast work and therefore the agencies are not in compliance. Read Full Letter to Premier Re Bill 17 February 2018
First Reference: Human Resources Advisor Special Report | Updated January 2018 Understanding Alberta’s updated employment and labour law By Yosie Saint-Cyr LL.B., Managing Editor, The Human Resources Advisor™
Alberta’s new Employment Standards Code came into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Products and services are available to help employers and employees learn the new rules:
- new website and printable fact sheets – late-Oct through Nov
- frequently asked questions (PDF, 205 KB)
- instructional videos
- free live webinars
- posters available for print, download or pre-order
- revised toolkit for employers
- updated online self-assessment compliance tool for employers
- revised guides, including hospitality and retail specific editions – coming soon
Rhonda Barraclough ALIGN E.D. Communication With Rae-ann Lajeun January 16, 2018
. As we discussed before most folks are in agreement that the Bill makes sense and is good for Albertans generally, but there has been some unintended consequences for our sector. There are some questions in this document that hopefully Labor can answer. I have to say I keep hearing that people call one time and get and answer then call again for clarity and get a different answer so it has been extremely frustrating. If they can provide answers to some of these questions it would be helpful.
To answer your earlier questions
- We have not heard issues with minimum wage – I have only heard from woods homes as its an issue for their driving program. We will have compression issues down the road but hopefully by then contracts will have added compensation. This is also not the case for disability services, they do have minimum wage concerns.
- The averaging agreements really don’t help with the overtime debt. Because the agreements require a schedule and in Family Support there is no schedules or they cannot be open/broad enough and in a 24/7operation it will remain a need. Therefore there needs to be compensation in the contracts some how, it is our hope that Children Services is figuring this into the budget and renewals of contracts:
- Compensation for holiday pay needs to be added to the contracts as there is no way to avoid those costs and the agencies don’t have it in their current contracts and that I will send examples separately.
Thanks for helping to make this a workable solution. We look forward to our meeting on Thursday.
Late last week there was an announcement that Campus Based Residential Care will be tendered shortly. For those of you who provide that service please stay tuned as I am sure you will receive information soon.
I am told that there has been a procurement plan (5 year) placed before the Minister and at this point there is no permission to move forward with anything other than this one area. I am aware that most of you have contracts that are set to expire on March 31, 2018.
The likelihood is that most of your contracts will be renewed at the same rates. Some may be able to re-negotiate some terms but for the most part status quo may be the outcome. I realize that this means no increases in any part of your operation for a long time.
Budget 2018 may not see any changes or increases. We already have a hint of that with no increases to foster care rates.
As always we will continue to advocate for a plan and for hopeful injections to the wages if nothing else. We need to have some clear information and in reality you need to be thinking about this already. If you have NO increases to your contracts and you are aware of the Bill 17 impacts, what will you do in the new fiscal year- i.e. Do you need to close beds, close programs, are you ok, decrease services and if so what? It would be very helpful if you can let me know what you think you will need to do if there are no changes of any kind.
I would appreciate if you can let me know what you think will happen and if you have any other impacts starting to creep in, like increasing turnover rates, etc. This information is very helpful as we strategize a plan to move forward. If we can we will also make the information available to you so that you can go out and advocate on your or your sectors behalf as we suspect there will be a need for political action. It is the politicians who are stopping things as treasury board.
Again we are trying to give concrete examples of the impacts of no procurement (negotiations or tenders) and Bill 17. I need to have that picture from you to share at table with the Ministry officials and the politicians.
Thanks for sharing I look forward to your information and trying to see what we can do to move the financial pendulum. If you could send me your story or information by November 30 I would appreciate it.
Rhonda Barraclough – ALIGN Executive Director RhondaB@alignab.ca
Correspondence from ALIGN E.D. Rhonda Barraclough November 10, 2017 Re: Bill 17
By now you are fully aware that as of January 1, 2018 Bill 17 will come into effect. The new Labor Standards will have an impact on all of you.
Thank you to those of you who were able to figure out your banked time . We have been able to send that information to the ministry as an example of the costs that you will incur. The Deputy Ministers from Children Services and Community and Support Services are meeting with the Ministry of Labor soon. We hope to hear from them about the issues soon.
I encourage you to make sure you are fully aware of the expectations of the new legislation and prepare for how it will affect your organization. There are some strict rules about overtime and scheduling time that need to be adhered to and in some cases you will need to make new agreements with your staff, or you may have to restrict staff flex time and you need to pay out overtime at a higher rate.
I encourage you to review the new legislation and ask questions to the Ministry of Labor. If there is anything else we can do let me know. I will keep you up dated as we hear more.