Labour shortages are a constant concern for farms across the country, with many farmers seeking temporary foreign workers to fill in the gaps. Twenty groups representing various Alberta farmers have recently begun lobbying for a review of the business law related to this important issue. The agricultural industry says 2014 changes to the law, designed to remove loopholes and prevent abuses, are making it difficult to bring in the workers they need.
Technology companies often raise new questions for regulators, especially if they present a tool where no laws seem to exist. Lack of regulation has been an ongoing controversy when it comes to bots that act as online ticket "scalpers," which are programmed to buy up tickets to popular events and sell them at inflated prices. Lawmakers in Alberta have passed a new business law to put a stop to these often contested programs.
The transportation and truck driving industries employ many people across Canada. A recent fatal collision between a truck and a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos team has influenced Alberta lawmakers to pass a new business law mandating driver training for new commercial drivers. The province's Transportation Minister says the new regulation will be in place as early as Jan. 2019.
Provincial laws and taxes are often the cause of businesses changing locations. This is a current concern in Manitoba, where energy efficiency programs and cuts to advertising may be contributing to the move of at least one company to Alberta. Provinces often have to weigh the importance of certain new laws with the possible repercussions from the business community.
Federal regulations often play a major role in business operations. For Alberta oil sands and pipelines, environmental regulations are a constant business law concern. However, the federal government has recently announced that it plans to not require Alberta energy businesses to pass a tough proposed environmental assessment as long as they fit under the province's existing regulatory plan.
As many business owners know, changes to provincial and federal legislation can have a major impact on operations. In Alberta, business law changes regarding provincial sales tax have been tabled and turned down multiple times since PST was repealed in 1937. Today, every other province has a provincial sales tax while Alberta will be continuing without one under the province's 2018 budget.
Legal issues can have serious consequences for individuals and businesses alike. In Sherwood Park, a dispute between a landlord and his commercial tenant has forced a health club to close its doors. Business law issues, including those around rental agreements, often force businesses to relocate or close altogether.
When businesses break labour or safety codes, they may face a variety of punishments. One Lethbridge restaurant has been under close inspection since Alberta Health Services found evidence of foreign workers sleeping there on mattresses. This violated provincial business law related to health in food services and possibly labour, though Alberta Labour cleared the restaurant of any wrongdoing.
Statistics are often used to inform lawmakers and citizens. Figures about the number of businesses that closed during the economic downturn in Alberta are often quoted in business law discussions, but how accurate are the commonly cited numbers? A recent analysis shows that the oft-cited statistic of 7,000 or even 11,000 lost businesses in Calgary may not be as accurate as previously thought.
Laws governing employers can change quickly, so it is important for business owners to stay aware of new developments. In Alberta, some owners have been caught off-guard by business law changes affecting labour. While most were aware of minimum wage changes, regulations governing holiday pay are also going to affect companies across the province.