News Briefs (December 18, 2000)

By
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/15/2001

ALTA. PUTS ONUS ON EMPLOYERS TO PROTECT STAFF WORKING ALONE

Edmonton — Alberta employers will soon face new safety regulations to protect employees who work alone. The regulations apply to all employees covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act but excludes those that come under federal legislation, those working in their own private dwellings and employees involved in farming and ranching. In any other case where an employee is working alone, the employer must conduct a hazard assessment to determine the dangers, implement safety measures, and ensure the employees have an effective way of communicating with their employer, immediate supervisor or another designated person in case of an emergency.

B.C. BUREAUCRATS FAIL TO BRING IN SKILLED IMMIGRANTS

Victoria — The British Columbia government has pledged to make better use of a program meant to accelerate the immigration process for skilled workers in order to address the shortage of nurses in the province. The B.C. Nominee program, introduced in May 1998, permits the province to import qualified foreign workers to solve labour shortages. B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh blamed provincial civil servant foot dragging for not making better use of the program. Like many provinces, B.C. is experiencing a troubling shortage of nurses, yet foreign nurses struggle to get into the country because nurses are not considered to be in high demand according to the general occupations list — the list used to rate prospective immigrants based on the scarcity of their skills and demand in the market. The list, which is compiled by HRDC, has not been updated in nearly four years.

TECHNOLOGY HURTING PRODUCTIVITY?

Vancouver — The mindless pursuit and improper use of the latest technologies distract workers and are not necessarily helping them get their work done, according to a recent survey by a Vancouver-based consulting company. Some respondents to the survey by Priority Management said intrusive technologies like e-mail, cell phones and voice mail prevent employees from being able to follow work plans. Fully 25 per cent of the 500 respondents said they are using new technology simply because it is the trend. E-mail was the most cited distraction and 33 per cent of executives surveyed said technology made them feel more stressed.

CHANGES CALLED FOR ALBERTA WCB

Edmonton — Two different reports, by legislative/WCB committees, have called for significant changes to Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board to improve service delivery and accountability. The first report made 27 recommendations covering: communication with injured workers, case management, accountability, conflicting medical opinions, appeals process, long-standing unresolved claims and response time. “Injured workers told us they are frustrated by a system that seems unfair and unaccountable,” said MLA Victor Doerksen. A second report made 32 recommendations that seek to improve the accountability of the appeals process by making the committee that hears appeals independent of the WCB. The WCB has until Jan. 31, 2001 to review the reports and respond.

MAKING WORKERS INTERNET SAVVY

Longueuil, PQ — Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney is supplying employees with home computers and Internet access. In an effort to make employees more comfortable online, the company launched PC@Home and will pay $1,050 per employee, with each of the 4,000 employees contributing $30 a month to take home a computer, monitor, speakers and a printer with 100 hours of Internet access. “As part of our e-business strategy, PC@Home supports our commitment to professional development by offering state-of-the-art tools to employees at home. In doing so, it also extends this commitment to employees’ families,” said Gilles Ouimet, president and chief executive officer.

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