Bill 17 went into effect in January 2018, and strips greenhouses of their agricultural exemption under the Labour Code.

That means greenhouses now have to pay overtime to employees who work more than 44 hours a week.

For Sunshine Greenhouse in Redcliff, that would mean an added expense of nearly $100,000 per year.

“Our businesses can't handle the significant extra costs that paying overtime would create,” said co-owner Dirk Vis. “So, what we'd have to do is scale everybody back to a regular 44 hour work week.”

Albert Cramer, chairman of the Greenhouse Growers Association of Alberta, said employees typically work eight to ten hours a day depending on the time of year.

Cramer said the government asked them to survey workers on whether they’d want to continue under the labour rules they’ve been operating under or introduce overtime. He said 87 per cent preferred more hours to overtime.

“They'd rather work more hours and not get paid overtime,” he said. “Otherwise they're down to eight hours and they want more hours than that.”

Read more at CHAT News Today (Leah Murray)