News briefs

Another crack at protecting whistle-blowers • Ottawa to review Fed labour code • Time for higher minimum wage in Alt. • New workplace rules poster • Americans happier at work than Canadians • More jobs for Aboriginals

Another crack at protecting whistle-blowers

— New whistle-blower protection may be on the way for federal public-sector workers. The proposed Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act includes significant revisions to the previous bill, introduced earlier this year but not passed before the June election. The proposed legislation calls for heads of federal organizations to establish an internal disclosure mechanism, to put in place a code of conduct, and to provide substantial protection from reprisal for good faith disclosures. “The new proposed bill strengthens both the independence and the powers of the neutral third party for disclosure investigations by assigning this role to the president of the Public Service Commission,” said Minister Reg Alcock, president of the Treasury Board of Canada. The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act can be viewed at

Ottawa to review Fed labour code

— It’s time to review Canada’s labour standards act, says new federal Labour Minister Joe Fontana. “This hasn’t been reviewed for 40 years,” he told the London Free Press. Minimum wage, pay equity, mandatory retirement, parental leave, pensions and work week length could all be up for changes in federally regulated workplaces, he said, adding that he’ll also work to remove barriers to the free movement of labour between provinces. A commission of experts, who have yet to be named, will be charged with modernizing Section 3 of the Canada Labour Code.

Time for higher minimum wage in Alt.

— Alberta needs to increase its “embarrassing” minimum wage, says an Alberta-based think-tank. “It’s time to do it. We’ve been embarrassed for too long,” said Todd Hirsch, chief economist of the Canada West Foundation in an Internet posting to fellow pro-business thinkers. “(If) companies in Alberta truly enjoy the ‘Alberta Advantage’ promoted so loudly by the government, surely their payroll budgets can handle a few extra cents an hour.” He called on the province to consider a 10-per-cent increase in the minimum wage “at the very least.” That would bring Alberta’s minimum wage to $6.50 an hour.

New workplace rules poster

— Ontario employers must display in the workplace a new government poster outlining worker and employer rights and obligations under employment standards. Employers covered by the province’s Employment Standards Act are required to display the new poster. Those failing to do so could face charges, according to the Ministry of Labour. The poster used to cost $6 each but will now be available for free. It will eventually be produced in 20 languages. For more go to

Americans happier at work than Canadians

Princeton, N.J.
—Americans work longer, but are also happier in their jobs than Canadians, according to a recent Gallup study. Thirty-eight per cent of Americans work more than 45 hours a week, compared to 30 per cent of Canadians. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. workers said they are “completely satisfied” with their relations with co-workers, and almost 60 per cent said they are completely satisfied with their boss, compared to just 59 per cent and 47 per cent in Canada respectively.

More jobs for Aboriginals

— Manitoba has launched a new program to find work for Aboriginal workers in call centres. The strategy identifies methods and practices to help call centres recruit, train and retain Aboriginal workers. The Aboriginal community is the youngest and fastest growing segment of Manitoba’s population. It’s projected that one of every four people entering the Winnipeg workforce will be of Aboriginal descent by 2015. Call centres in Manitoba employ more than 10,000 workers with combined annual salaries of more than $242 million.

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