Farm workers want protection
— A union representing farm workers is suing Ontario for not extending health and safety protection to agricultural workers, considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the province. The Charter challenge before Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice alleges that the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act is unconstitutional because it deprives farm workers of basic legal protections enjoyed by almost every other worker in the province. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is also considering another court challenge to the Employment Standards Act, which also excludes farm workers from protection on such things as hours of work.
Best firms for older workers
— Canada’s Association for the Fifty-Plus, also known as CARP, and FGI, an employee support services provider, are teaming up to launch a best employer award to recognize organizations that address key areas of job satisfaction for workers 50 years and older. The Best Employers Award for 50-Plus Canadians will name winners in spring 2004, based on organizations’ practices in hiring, training, career development, health care, employee and family benefits, retirement policy, pensions and pre- and post-retirement support systems.
Long hours stressing staff
— Long hours and excessive work demands are the biggest cause of stress for working Canadians, according to a recently released study of 25,000 people by Statistics Canada, conducted in 2000. As was the case in 1994, more than one-third (34 per cent) of Canadian workers cited too many demands or hours as a common source of stress in the workplace. Stress about job security, however, dropped from 22 per cent in 1994, when one in 10 Canadians were jobless, to 13 per cent in 2000 when the economy was in full growth. In the 2000 survey, 13 per cent cited risk of accident and injury as a cause of stress, and 15 per cent cited poor inter-personal relations.
Fines reduced for late payroll remittances
— Canada Customs and Revenue is lowering the penalties for employers that are late in paying payroll remittances. As of this month there are new graduated penalty rates, replacing the old flat penalty rate of 10 per cent. Penalties of three per cent will be applied to remittances that are late three days or less, five per cent for those four to five days late, seven per cent for those six to seven days late and 10 per cent for any remittances that are late by eight days or more.
Protecting young workers
— The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has launched an awareness campaign to bring down workplace accident rates among young workers. The campaign, consisting mainly of posters and radio ads, urges young workers to arm themselves with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities. In Nova Scotia, the top three sectors where young workers most likely get hurt are manufacturing, restaurants and eateries, and retail.
Court opens door on old immigration applications
— A federal court judge has ordered the immigration department to stop using new rules to reject applications for immigration which were submitted before the rules took effect. Many applicants who would have been granted entry under the old system would likely be disqualified by the new, tougher criteria. Critics say 100,000 skilled workers could be affected. A class-action suit has been launched on behalf of the potential immigrants. It would force the federal government to process applications made prior to the new rules under the old rules or pay damages. For more go to www.hrreporter.com click on “Search” and enter article #2510.