Immigration target hits 25-year high
Ottawa — The federal government has increased its annual immigration target to between 240,000 and 265,000 in 2007, the highest level in 25 years. Canada accepted 262,236 immigrants in 2005, higher than targeted. It’s also on track to accept the high end of this year’s target of 225,000 to 255,000 immigrants. About 60 per cent of 2005 newcomers were economic immigrants and their dependants, while the remaining 40 per cent arrived via the family reunification or refugee program.
New safety rules in Manitoba
Winnipeg — Manitoba has adopted sweeping changes in the first revision of the province’s health and safety legislation in 30 years. The changes address for the first time safety protocols for exposure to asbestos, radiation and for work in confined space. They also target soft tissue injuries, which currently represent 59 per cent of claims at the province’s Workers’ Compensation Board. The changes come into force Feb. 1, 2007.
New stat holiday in Saskatchewan, not in Nova Scotia
Regina — The NDP government has promised a new statutory holiday for the third Monday in February. The new Family Day will put Saskatchewan alongside Nunavut and the Northwest Territories for the most statutory holidays in Canada at 10. In Nova Scotia, which has the least holidays at five, Conservative Premier Rodney MacDonald has dashed hopes for a February long weekend. He said his government won’t vote for a private member’s bill to introduce the holiday, a third effort by Liberal representative Diana Whalen to do so.
Ontario to protect government whistle-blowers
Toronto — The Ontario government has introduced a bill to protect government workers who blow the whistle on wrongdoing. If passed, the bill would give the provincial integrity commissioner the power to investigate allegations made by anyone working for a ministry or agency. Similar legislation was passed by the NDP government in 1994 but was never proclaimed into law.
Ontario, Ottawa at odds over retired bureaucrats drug costs
Toronto — Ontario’s plan to stop paying drug costs for retired federal civil servants is drawing criticism from the Treasury Board president John Baird, who said the plan creates “a second class of senior citizens.” Under Ontario’s proposal, federal public service retirees would have to pay for their drugs and seek reimbursement from the federal plan, which covers 80 per cent of total drug costs. With 88,000 retired federal civil servants living in Ontario, the proposal would increase costs for the federal plan by $80 million a year.
Federal bureaucracy urged to ease short-term hiring
Ottawa — Federal departments will face a labour crisis if they go without long-term plans to replace retiring baby boomers, warned Public Service Commission president Maria Barrados. Managers are now relying on temporary, stop-gap staffing, she said. Of 45,000 people the government hired last year, 30,000 were casual workers doing 90-day stints. Last year, the commission drew applications from 16,200 candidates from its campus drives, but only 550 were hired and nearly half were for term jobs.
Compassionate care rules eased in B.C.
Victoria — British Columbia’s Liberal government has announced it’s expanding job protection for compassionate care leave by amending eligibility rules, which currently allow only immediate family members to take unpaid leaves of up to eight weeks to care for a dying person. Changes would mean step-siblings, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews, current or former foster parents or children and current or former wards or guardians are also eligible, as are those considered by the dying person to be “like a close relative.”