News briefs (Jan. 13, 2003)

Alberta favourite spot for job seekers

Ottawa
— Due to a booming economy and the perceived availability of work, 120,000 Canadians packed up and moved to Alberta from 1996 to 2001, according to Statistics Canada. While the oil industry may have attracted many to Alberta, tough times in British Columbia drove people away. Between 1991 and 1996 150,000 people moved to B.C., but in the latest period the province lost more than 23,000 people. Ontario and Prince Edward Island were the only other provinces to experience an inter-provincial net gain — 51,000 and 135 people respectively.

Addressing the "brain waste"

Ottawa
— The federal government is giving the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers $215,000 for a program to improve the assessment and recognition of foreign engineering credentials. Denis Coderre, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said the country can’t afford to let highly trained people wait too long to have their credentials recognized. “There has been a lot of talk about brain drain,” said Coderre. “Now it’s time to address brain waste.”

More immigrants self employed

Ottawa
— Immigrants to Canada are going into business for themselves in increasing numbers, according to Statistics Canada. In 1981, about eight per cent of immigrant workers were self-employed. By 1996, this proportion almost doubled to 14 per cent. In contrast, the proportion of self-employed Canadian-born workers remained fairly steady during the same period. In 1981, about 13 per cent were self-employed, compared with about 14 per cent in 1996.

Ontario retreats on pension changes

Toronto
— The Ontario government last month withdrew amendments to the Pension Benefits Act that would have made it easier for plan sponsors to tap into pension surpluses. The changes were widely criticized by labour and employee advocates who claimed employers would being given access to benefits that belong to employees. The Association of Canadian Pension Management said it was disappointed to see the government withdraw the changes. Finance Minister Janet Ecker stated, “We are committed to ongoing efforts with our stakeholders and determining the best steps to address the pension issues.”

Human rights rules are rules

Ottawa
— Parliament Hill is not a human rights free zone, according to the Federal Court of Appeal. The court recently ruled a chauffeur who was fired from his job as a driver for former Speaker of the House of Commons Gilbert Parent will be allowed to pursue a complaint of race discrimination. In a unanimous decision, the court rejected the argument that parliamentary privilege covered the entire employment relationship and exempts MPs from the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

National retail comp rates

Toronto
— Retail employees in Toronto, British Columbia and the territories earn about six per cent more than the national average (staff in Ontario, outside of Toronto, earn 4.9 per cent more than the national average), while those in the Prairie provinces earn 5.5 per cent less and workers in Atlantic Canada make 16.5 per cent less than the national average, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Managers earn an average of $43,800 per year in Canada, but in stores with revenue exceeding $5 million, store managers may earn $21,000 more per year.

More cash for Ontario schools

Toronto
— The Ontario government will inject $590 million into the school system, $340 million of which will go toward teachers’ salary increases. Another $250 million a year will be spent on special education programs, including funds for teachers, assistants and specialists.

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