Six months without missing a day enters hospital staff in draw
— The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority will reward staff who go six months without calling in sick with a chance to win $300 in gift certificates. The plan to reduce absenteeism has critics, including the B.C. Nurses Union, questioning why any employer would create an incentive that encourages staff to come in sick. Such an incentive means sick workers can show up and infect other staff, actually driving up absenteeism. And in the case of a hospital there’s the added risk of passing an illness to patients, critics charge.
Americans logging more hours than Canadians
— Canadians spent less time toiling away on the job than their American counterparts in the 1990s, Statistics Canada reports. In 1979 the average Canadian worked 1,260 hours per year, compared with 1,279 hours for Americans. In the ’80s Canadians averaged 1,354 hours compared with 1,380 for Americans. But by 2000 a wide gap emerged with Americans averaging 1,455 hours annually — much higher than the 1,332 hours logged by Canadians. Statistics Canada pegged the reason for the gap on last decade’s sluggish economic growth and weak labour demand in Canada relative to the U.S., rather than a decision by Canadians to pursue more leisure time.
If I went back to college…
— About 44 per cent of Canadians would choose a different major if they returned to college or university, a poll by MasterCard Canada shows. Of more than 1,000 Canadians surveyed, 43 per cent said they’d return for interest or fun, 32 per cent said they’d do so to change careers and 23 per cent said it would be to help them in their current line of work. The poll asked people what they’d do with $25,000 free tuition. For one-third of respondents, it would be their first time attending a post-secondary institution.
Stock market still hurting pension plans
— The value of assets in employer pension plans fell 4.7 per cent in the first quarter and employers are pumping cash into beleaguered plans thanks to continuing weakness in stock prices, according to Statistics Canada. As of March 31, the value of assets in these funds amounted to $518.2 billion, down from $543.8 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2002. The funds are experiencing negative cash flows that can result from losses on the sale of stocks. The industry has been selling off devalued stock in efforts to rebalance their portfolios to longer-term value, according to Statistics Canada.
Tip line catches overtime fraud
— Calls to the City of Toronto’s fraud snitch line tipped off the municipal government to an employee who banked $69,000 in unauthorized overtime. The tip line’s usefulness was noted in an annual report by the city’s auditor general.
Ottawa eases up on entry rules for skilled immigrants
— Canada has lowered the bar in the immigration selection process, making it possible to qualify with only 67 points in a rating system that awards points for education, experience and English or French fluency. The cut-off point had been 75 since new immigration rules came into effect in spring 2002. The immigration department also announced that about 100,000 applications in the backlog would be processed under pre-2002 rules. Some of these applicants had turned to the courts to challenge the fact that the new, tougher rules disqualify them, even though they had first applied under the old system. Federal immigration minister Denis Coderre said entry rules were lowered to address a serious shortage of skilled workers for the next five years. About 220,000 to 245,000 immigrants are let in a year.