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Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:19

Website exposes deadbeat Alberta businesses

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When French author André Maurois said, “Business is a combination of war and sport.”


He probably didn’t mean that the war and the sport was business and employee relationships —especially in reference to supposedly deadbeat businesses.
In late June, Human Services Minister Dave Hancock launched a website (http://employment. alberta.ca/SFW/ judgments-search.asp) which openly listed Alberta businesses which had been determined to owe former employees backpay. Called the Unsatisfied Employment Standards judgments search, the Government of Alberta’s Human Services stated the new web page includes the names of approximately 1,700 employers with a combined 3,500 unsatisfied claims for earnings totalling more than $14 million.
Some of these claims date back 10 years.
The government states employers can have their names removed from the list by paying the earnings as directed.
Now in a July 9 CanWest news story, it’s being reported the Saskatchewan government is looking at doing the same thing.
It’s fascinating to see two small ‘c’ conservative governments such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, which supposedly are all about promoting/ creating/protecting businesses at all costs take a stance such as this one. It’s a welcome move to be sure for people looking for work or consumers who are looking for businesses to patronize.
The only problem with it is those businesses who were put in unfortunate circumstances and are on the list through no fault of their own. Subsequently, they maybe unfairly labelled.
These lists need to be made public only if and when it has been determined the company is at fault. Otherwise, the government is creating a dangerous precedent.
It’s interesting that in southeast Alberta Brooks has 13 such judgments and Medicine Hat has 88. In Medicine Hat’s case, one business had 51 people being owed close to $190,000. However, in a search no other communities in southeast Alberta had such claims. Perhaps those in smaller centres know one of the best ways of advertising is word-of-mouth. Nothing gets around a community faster than unsavoury business practices.
With this new access to public awareness, perhaps this may signal to business owners, the days of doing things such as not paying employees their entitled due anonymously are done. Game over.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor of the Prairie Post.Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece by emailing him at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor