There’s been a wave of breathless news coverage and anxious think pieces about “time theft” and “quiet quitting” lately—new buzzwords that the business class are shopping around to suggest that workers are unfairly squeezing their employers. But the modest amount that employers say (without a lot of evidence) they’re being cheated out of pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars that are being stolen from Alberta workers by employers every year. That’s no buzz word, it’s real: it’s called wage theft and it was actually a crime in Canada from 1935-1955.
The government of Alberta receives complaints about employers who don’t pay wages to workers through their employment standards tip-line. Employment standards officers investigate those complaints and publish the names, addresses, judgment amounts and contraventions of the labour code of employers who don’t pay their workers the wages they are owed. That means anyone, including you, can search this database to find out if an employer has refused to pay their workers wages that are owed to them.
In the first quarter of 2023 there were more than $187,000 dollars in “unsatisfied judgements,” cases where officers had investigated a complaint, found that the employer had stolen wages from a worker, and levied a penalty against that employer—but the employer still hasn’t paid up.
Image from a Wage Theft Rally in New York City in 2015.
Makkah Barbeque Pizza and Grill, located in Fort McMurray, was the biggest offender of the first quarter of 2023. It owes more than $25,000 to staff for unpaid holiday pay, overtime pay and wages. When you call the number for Makkah Barbeque Grill and Pizza the automated e-attendant says that you’ve reached Damascus Halal Charcoal And Pizza but you’re not able to get through. Whatever this business is called, it didn’t respond to our inquiries about their unsatisfied judgment.
HPIL Holding owes more than $21,000 in wages, vacation pay and termination pay, according to another unsatisfied employment standards judgment. HPIL Holding has a mailing address in Vancouver and the contact name is listed as Stephen Brown. The company’s website has no details on the company but the name of the company appears to be Horizon Project Investment and Logistics. HPIL didn’t respond to our inquiries either.
Celtic Finishing in Calgary owes more than $14,000 in unpaid vacation pay, wages, holiday pay and overtime. And you guessed it, silence from this company when we inquired with them too.
Those were just the top three largest examples of wage theft that were caught by employment standards officers in the first quarter of 2023. There were 53 separate unpaid employment standards judgments between Jan. 1, 2023 and March 31, 2023 in Alberta for a total of more than $187,000 in discovered wage theft in Alberta in the first quarter of 2023.
Here’s the entire table of unpaid employment standards judgements from Q1 2023. Head to the bottom of the story to find out how much bosses stole from workers in all of 2022.
|Judgment Date||Legal Name||Address||Judgment Amount||Contravention(s)|
|3/27/2023||REVEL MARKETPLACE INC. (LITTLE TAVERN PIZZA PROJECT)||5555 STRATHCONA HILL SW CALGARY ALBERTA||$1,493.20||Vacation Pay, Termination Pay|
|3/7/2023||DR. PREM CONSUL||672 SCIMITAR BAY NW CALGARY ALBERTA||$5,009.58||Wages, Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay, Termination Pay|
|3/2/2023||AUTOMAXX AUTOMOTIVE SALES LTD. (AUTOMAXX)||715 41 AVE NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$363.12||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/28/2023||2278560 ALBERTA LTD. (WOK BOX AND/OR WOK BOX – NORTH AND/OR WOK BOX – RED DEER)||117-5211 25 AVE NW EDMONTON ALBERTA||$1,452.00||Termination Pay|
|2/27/2023||1623584 ALBERTA INC. (CELTIC FINISHING)||7519 30 STREET SE CALGARY ALBERTA||$14,235.96||Vacation Pay, Wages, Overtime, General Holiday Pay|
|2/27/2023||ST. CROIX ELECTRIC (2017) LTD.||118 SMALLWOOD BAY FORT MCMURRAY ALBERTA||$12,753.95||Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay, Wages|
|2/26/2023||1852677 ALBERTA LTD. (URBAN OAK REJUVENATION CLINIC)||140-11 ATHABASCAN AVE SHERWOOD PARK ALBERTA||$2,277.44||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/26/2023||MCKJ DEVELOPMENTS INC. (AU CROQUE MONSIEUR INGLEWOOD)||$2,391.07||Vacation Pay, Wages|
|2/24/2023||EAST COAST PUB & EATERY LTD. (MARITIME PUB & EATERY)||960 YANKEE VALLEY BLVD SE AIRDRIE ALBERTA||$718.80|
|2/24/2023||EAST COAST PUB & EATERY LTD. (MARITIME PUB & EATERY)||960 YANKEE VALLEY BLVD SE AIRDRIE ALBERTA||$154.60|
|2/24/2023||EAST COAST PUB & EATERY LTD. (THE MARITIME PUB & EATERY (THE EAST COAST PUB & EATERY))||960 YANKEE VALLEY BLVD SE AIRDRIE ALBERTA||$446.48||Vacation Pay|
|2/23/2023||STANDARD WEST STEEL LTD. (STANDARD WEST STEEL LTD.)||6749 65 AVE RED DEER ALBERTA||$9,246.49||Vacation Pay, Termination Pay|
|2/22/2023||1816884 ALBERTA LTD. (MOCHA CABANA AND/OR MOCHA CABANA BISTRO)||C/O ANGEL HARPER 317 4 ST S LETHBRIDGE ALBERTA||$1,442.11||General Holiday Pay, Termination Pay, Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/20/2023||AL-AMAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION (AL-AMAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION)||9 ROYAL VISTA DR NW CALGARY ALBERTA||$372.48||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/12/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (YARD PRO LANDSCAPING)||89 ROCKYLEDGE CRESCENT NW CALGARY ALBERTA||$364.96||Wages, Vacation Pay, Overtime|
|2/10/2023||1842892 ALBERTA LTD. (HUNTER POWER ENERGY)||#9, 11110 - 88 AVENUE FORT SASKATCHEWAN ALBERTA||$793.68||Vacation Pay, Wages|
|2/10/2023||2300175 ALBERTA LTD. (ELLIE'S KITCHEN + BAR)||316 3 ST SE CALGARY ALBERTA||$782.50||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/9/2023||2105104 ALBERTA LTD. (GAME DAY BARBERSHOP)||10369 78 AVE NW EDMONTON ALBERTA||$2,030.01||Wages, Vacation Pay, Termination Pay|
|2/7/2023||BOBBIE WUTKE (AUNTIES FUN CENTRE)||6509 55 AVE VEGREVILLE ALBERTA||$3,498.33||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|2/6/2023||BOBBIE WUTKE (AUNTIES FUN CENTRE)||6509 55 AVE W VEGREVILLE ALBERTA||$1,372.80||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|2/5/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (YRDPROS)||$2,272.60||Overtime, Vacation Pay, Wages|
|2/3/2023||BOBBIE WUTKE (AUNTIE'S FUN CENTER)||6509 55 AVE VEGREVILLE ALBERTA||$1,991.42||Vacation Pay, Wages|
|2/1/2023||CIPRIANI DEVELOPMENTS INC. (GRANDE AMORE)||1-2116 4 ST SW CALGARY ALBERTA||$3,030.23||Vacation Pay, Overtime, Termination Pay|
|1/31/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (GREEN LAWN LANDSCAPING)||9305 111 AVE NW EDMONTON ALBERTA||$802.00||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/31/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (YARD PRO LANDSCAPING YYC)||3821 12 ST NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$1,372.80||Vacation Pay, Wages|
|1/30/2023||1941097 ALBERTA LTD. (WILDROSE CARPET)||6 SKYVIEW POINT RISE NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$4,920.42||Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay, Overtime|
|1/30/2023||24/7 HOME SUPPORT AND CARE INC. (24/7 HOME SUPPORT AND CARE)||177 AUBURN GLEN CIRCLE SE CALGARY ALBERTA||$156.16||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/30/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (GREEN LAWN LANDSCAPING)||9305 111 AVE NW EDMONTON ALBERTA||$2,362.80||Wages|
|1/30/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (YARD PROS)||3821 12 ST NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$1,179.20||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|1/29/2023||2071107 ALBERTA INCORPORATED (ACCOUNTVICE)||7039 GATEWAY BLVD NW EDMONTON ALBERTA||$7,463.41||General Holiday Pay, Wages, Vacation Pay, Overtime|
|1/29/2023||2102623 ALBERTA LTD. (GLOBAL TAX & ACCOUNTING)||5016 50 AVE PONOKA ALBERTA||$813.07||Termination Pay|
|1/29/2023||2303605 ALBERTA INC. (SEED TRUCKS & EXCAVATORS)||8307 138 AVE. EDMONTON ALBERTA||$1,047.50||Vacation Pay, Wages, Overtime|
|1/29/2023||AHSAN & BECK BUILDERS CORPORATION (YRDPROS)||3821 12 ST NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$2,868.03||Vacation Pay, Wages, Overtime|
|1/29/2023||CALIBER ELECTRIC LTD. (CALIBER ELECTRIC LTD)||17 DOVERVILLE WAY SE CALGARY ALBERTA||$4,875.52||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay, Job Protected Leave Personal and Family Responsibility|
|1/29/2023||HPIL HOLDING||#1720 650 W GEORGIA ST VANCOUVER BRITISH COLUMBIA||$21,062.94||Wages, Vacation Pay, Termination Pay|
|1/29/2023||NEW WAY DRYWALL LTD. (NEW WAY DRYWALL LTD.)||C/O RACHHPAL SHERGILL 264 SADDLECREST WAY NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$2,265.42||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|1/29/2023||PRIORITY LOGISTICS INC. (PRIORITY LOGISTICS)||$5.00||Overtime|
|1/29/2023||RANGERS PROTECTIVE SERVICES INC. (RANGERS PROTECTIVE SERVICES)||2280 39 AVE NE, BAY 7 CALGARY ALBERTA||$4,171.60||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/29/2023||WANDA LEE||1116 BEVERLEY BLVD SW CALGARY ALBERTA||$3,266.03||Wages, Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay|
|1/26/2023||9-ELEVEN FOOD STORE INC. (FRIENDSHIP FOOD STORE)||11754 - 124 STREET EDMONTON ALBERTA||$3,777.82||Vacation Pay, Overtime, General Holiday Pay|
|1/26/2023||JEWEL ELECTRIC LTD. (JEWEL ELECTRIC)||$812.40||Wages, Vacation Pay, General Holiday Pay|
|1/23/2023||CIPRIANI DEVELOPMENTS INC. AND/OR CIPRIANI DEVELOPMENTS INC. (GRANDE AMORE RESTAURANT AND/OR GRANDE AMORE)||1112 BEVERLEY BLVD. S.W. CALGARY ALBERTA||$6,674.57||Wages, Vacation Pay, Overtime, General Holiday Pay, Termination Pay|
|1/23/2023||CYCLE ENERGY SERVICES INC. (CYCLE ENERGY SERVICES)||203-304 MAIN ST SE AIRDRIE ALBERTA||$1,311.20||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|1/19/2023||1738962 ALBERTA LTD. (MAKKAH BARBEQUE GRILL & PIZZA INC.)||$5,833.67||General Holiday Pay, Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|1/16/2023||2048743 ALBERTA LTD. (BRAR MOTORS)||6611 88 ST.N.W. EDMONTON ALBERTA||$522.76||Vacation Pay, Wages, Overtime|
|1/16/2023||ABILITY SOCIETY OF ALBERTA (ABIILTY4GOOD)||P. O. BOX 22173, RPO POLLARD MEADOWS EDMONTON ALBERTA||$2,286.61||Termination Pay, Vacation Pay|
|1/16/2023||KINFE CLEANING LTD. (KINFE CLEANING LTD.)||244 CORAL KEYS DR NE CALGARY ALBERTA||$1,482.68||Wages, Vacation Pay, Termination Pay|
|1/11/2023||2300175 ALBERTA LTD. (ELLIE'S KITCHEN + BAR)||$4,139.56||Wages, Overtime, Vacation Pay|
|1/9/2023||1738962 ALBERTA LTD. (MAKKAH BARBEQUE GRILL & PIZZA INC.)||$12,783.97||General Holiday Pay, Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/9/2023||1738962 ALBERTA LTD. (MAKKAH BARBEQUE GRILL & PIZZA INC.)||$7,197.97||Overtime, General Holiday Pay, Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/8/2023||ELEMENT GP INC. (ELEMENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIP)||344044A, AB-22 JAMES RIVER ALBERTA||$2,667.92||Vacation Pay, Wages, Overtime|
|1/5/2023||JORDY LIONEL WEINRAUCH (PROGRESSIVE WELLSITE MANAGEMENT LTD.)||1100, 225 - 6 AVENUE SW CALGARY ALBERTA||$9,226.24||Wages, Vacation Pay|
|1/5/2023||SUSAN CORDINER (DOBRE FOOD & CATERING)||230 2 AVE STRATHMORE ALBERTA||$1,383.10||Wages, Vacation Pay|
This table is accurate of April 3, 2023. All information from the Government of Alberta.
Only a small fraction of employment standards infractions are actually reported. According to research done by David Weil, a Harvard trained economist and an appointee of both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, only one out of 130 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the equivalent American legislation to the Alberta labour code) for overtime wage theft actually get reported.
Jason Foster, an associate professor of human resources and labour relations at Athabasca University, says that the amount of actual wage theft happening in Alberta dwarfs what’s being discovered by employment standards officers following up on complaints.
“Given the numbers available and what we know from studies that have found that for every complaint that gets filed there are so many more other complaints that don’t get reported I think we can comfortably say that between $50 and $150 million was stolen from Alberta workers by employers in 2022,” said Foster.
“It’s really difficult to estimate how many violations that are going unreported. Workers are afraid to talk, they’re hard to reach. So many workers just decide to quit and find a new job. We have to give it quite a large margin of error because of that uncertainty.”
The Government of Alberta doesn’t publicly report how many employment standards judgements are levied and then paid off, either.
Foster also says the mechanism for collecting the money owed to workers is lax on purpose.
“The enforcement mechanism for collecting money stolen from workers is designed to be completely ineffective. The system just doesn't work. If governments actually cared about helping workers recoup stolen wages they would build a much stronger system.``
While employers are legally obligated to pay judgments made against them the tools available to workers are scant. The worker can “request’ the services of Employment Standards Collections, or attempt collection on their own. There is nothing on this Government of Alberta information page about consequences for employers who don’t pay their outstanding judgments. The only real thing that happens is their name gets published in the public database.
“The only mechanism that workers have to ensure they get treated fairly when it comes to wage theft is to join a union. But that doesn’t help people in the moment so I would argue you do have to use the system that exists the best you can and file a complaint,” said Foster.
“It’s not a great situation for a non-unionized worker who’s had wages stolen from them, it’s very difficult. It’s why so many quit and just to get another job. It’s sad but it’s usually the most logical strategy.”
If you have had wages stolen from you by an employer you can make an employment standards complaint or leave an anonymous tip here.