News briefs

Regina warns of labour shortage; Air Canada loses pay equity decision, for now; RCMP to pay $950,000 in harassment case; B.C. Olympics only the start of construction worker need; HR most popular form of outsourcing; How does your firm’s pension plan stack up?


Regina warns of labour shortage
Regina — A shortage of skilled workers is the top issue facing Regina businesses, a survey reports. It’s the first time a worker shortage was ranked the number one concern by business leaders in the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic survey. John Hopkins, CEO of the chamber, said retiring baby boomers and greater job opportunities in Alberta are expected to keep the labour shortage an issue.

Air Canada loses pay equity decision, for now
Ottawa — The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled 7-0 in favour of female Air Canada flight attendants who sought to compare their jobs with those of mainly male mechanics and pilots. The ruling overturns a human rights tribunal decision that accepted the airline’s argument that there was no basis for comparison because the jobs were governed by different union contracts. Such a narrow interpretation defeats the very purpose of pay equity, the high court wrote in sending the case back to the tribunal. The court condemned Air Canada’s use of legal technicalities to delay the case that began in 1991.

RCMP to pay $950,000 in harassment case
VICTORIA — The Supreme Court of British Columbia has awarded $950,000 in damages, lost wages and future wages to a former RCMP officer who was harassed by her “old-school” detachment commander after she took time off due to complications with her pregnancy. Nancy Sulz was the victim of “humiliating and unfair comments” at her Merritt, B.C., detachment relating to her maternity leave and medical absences. The cumulative effect was so severe that Sulz, at the urging of the RCMP, sought and was granted a medical discharge and is likely unable to ever work again. An interim RCMP review found Sulz was the victim of harassment, but that no disciplinary action could be taken because the commander had retired. For more on this case, see the Feb. 15 issue of Canadian Employment Law Today at employmentlawtoday.com.

B.C. Olympics only the start of construction worker need
Vancouver — British Columbia is holding job fairs in England, France, Belgium and other European nations in the hopes of finding the construction workers it needs to complete infrastructure and site projects for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. But the demand for skilled workers won’t end when the Games do, warns the B.C. Construction Association. It estimates the sector will require 60,000 people by 2013, a doubling of 2004 employment levels.

HR most popular form of outsourcing
New York — The growth of business process outsourcing was flat in the last quarter of 2005, with many providers reaching their capacity and buyer demand slowing, a report by international outsourcing firm EquaTerra states. Human resources tops the list of functions being outsourced.

How does your firm’s pension plan stack up?
Ottawa — Taxpayers will spend about $77.5 million in pension and severance payments for 66 MPs who were defeated in, or retired before, the federal election, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation reports. The biggest payout will go to Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew, age 54, of the Northwest Territories. She’ll receive $138,000 annually for her 17 years in Parliament, for a total of $3,762,000 if she lives to age 75.

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