News Briefs

Manitoba could add 2 more cancers to WCB; Nova Scotia increases pension contributions; Nova Scotia launches staffing initiative for older nurses; B.C. reaches out to skilled immigrants in northern India; Quebec offers loans to AbitibiBowater; Union Contract at Walmart
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/03/2009

Manitoba could add 2 more cancers to WCB

Winnipeg — Manitoba has proposed adding esophageal and primary site testicular cancer to a list of occupational cancers covered by workers’ compensation for firefighters. The proposed changes would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to add the two diseases to the list of occupational disease presumptions for firefighters. In 2002, Manitoba became the first jurisdiction in Canada to have a firefighter presumption, which included brain and kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia. Since then, bladder, ureter, colorectal and lung cancer in non-smokers, along with heart injuries within 24 hours of an emergency response, have all been deemed work-related injuries for volunteer, full- and part-time firefighters.

Nova Scotia increases pension contributions

Halifax — Nova Scotia is increasing contributions for employees and employers of the Public Service Superannuation Pension Plan (PSSP) to help address a shortfall in the plan’s long-term funded status. Contributions increased by one or 1.3 per cent of salary, depending on employee pay level, as of April 12. “This increase will help improve the PSSP’s funded status but will not solve the problem,” said Minister of Finance Jamie Muir. “A long-term strategy is needed to address the issue.” On Dec. 31, 2008, the PSSP was estimated to have an unfunded liability of $1.65 billion, resulting in a funded ratio of 64.8 per cent.

Nova Scotia launches staffing initiative for older nurses

Halifax — A new $2.6-million initiative is intended to help retain new and late-career nurses in Nova Scotia. The provincial government and nurses’ union have teamed up with Health Canada and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions to create a new 80-20 staffing model. It will see participating late-career nurses spend 80 per cent of their time in direct patient care and the remaining 20 per cent on professional development and mentoring new graduates. New grads entering the field will benefit from mentoring and receive orientation to help them adapt to their new career and the pressures nurses face. The project will target the graduating classes of June and December 2009 and June 2010. Registered and licensed practical nurses in the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union who work in district health authorities and in continuing care will be eligible.

B.C. reaches out to skilled immigrants in northern India

Victoria — British Columbia has appointed a new liaison in the Chandigarh region of India’s Punjab province to encourage the immigration of northern Indian business owners and skilled workers to the province. DJ Sandhu will hold the post of in-market business investment and skills liaison representative in India, which will cost the government $150,000. Sandhu will split his time between India and B.C., where, as B.C. regional innovation chair on Canada-India business and economic development, he will help businesses in the Fraser Valley and lower mainland region take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Indian market.

Quebec offers loans to AbitibiBowater

Montreal — The Quebec government is offering AbitibiBowater up to $120.6 million in loan guarantees to help the Montreal-based forestry company with its effort to restructure while under bankruptcy protection. The loans are a means to ensure employees continue to get paid and retirees continue to receive their pensions, said Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand. About one-half of AbitibiBowater’s 14,000 employees work in Quebec and the company pays pensions to about 9,000 retirees in the province. The U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports said the loan violated the Softwood Lumber Trade Agreement, which prohibits Canadian government authorities, including provincial governments, from providing benefits to companies that produce softwood lumber.

Union Contract at Walmart

St. Hyacinthe, Que. — About 180 workers at a Walmart in St-Hyacinthe, Que., have gained the protection of a union contract, after more than four years of legal challenges, negotiations and mediation. The members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union had received union accreditation in January 2005 but called on an arbitrator when contract negotiations stalled with the retail giant. “Our St-Hyacinthe members have a lot to be proud of,” said Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada. “Because of their determination and Quebec’s progressive labour laws, the workers have made history, but it was hard won.” In August 2008, a group of Tire & Lube Express (TLE) workers unionized at a Walmart in Gatineau, Que., but Walmart closed the TLE. In 2005, the company also shut a store in Jonqiuère, Que., immediately after the union applied for binding arbitration.

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