News briefs

Smaller firms overburdened by red tape; Temporary foreign workers rules eased in Ontario; Stress making nurses sick; B.C. mulls ending forced retirement; Ontario passes law to help immigrants get licenses; Canadian companies weak on internal controls

Smaller firms overburdened by red tape

Ottawa — Small and medium-sized firms in five selected sectors spent $1.53 billion in 2005 filling out paperwork in compliance with government regulations, according to Statistics Canada. Income tax filing accounted for 41 per cent of the total cost of compliance, followed by federal-provincial sale tax filing (17 per cent) and payroll remittances (14 per cent). For businesses employing one to four people, compliance costs represent $982 per employee. The cost per head drops as a firm increases in size, to $326 in firms of five to 19 employees, $146 in firms of 20 to 99 employees and $87 in firms of 100 to 499 employees. The five sectors surveyed were manufacturing, retail, professional, scientific and technical services and accommodation and food services.

Temporary foreign workers rules eased in Ontario

Toronto — Employers in Ontario will join those in Alberta and British Columbia in benefiting from streamlined rules to bring in workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, federal Human Resources and Social Development Minister Diane Finley has announced. Under the new rules, employers only have to advertise an opening for one week as opposed to the standard one month before being allowed to look outside the country. The new rules apply to jobs on a provincial list of occupations deemed “under pressure.”

Stress making nurses sick

Ottawa — High work stress aggravated by overtime and a lack of full-time work are making Canada’s 314,900 nurses sick, according to a report by Statistics Canada. Thirty-one per cent of nurses experienced a high level of stress, compared to 26 per cent for all female workers, according to a survey of 19,000 nurses conducted between October 2005 and January 2006. Nurses with high job stress had more absences than those with less strain. The study also found 46 per cent of nurses nationwide worked overtime but only six in 10 had full-time jobs in 2005. Nurses were also twice as likely to be working more than one job, at 19 per cent for nurses compared to nine per cent for female employees in general. The study, conducted in conjunction with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, also found 29 per cent of nurses had been physically assaulted by a patient and 44 per cent had been emotionally abused in the previous year.

B.C. mulls ending forced retirement

Victoria — B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has said he’ll introduce a law to end mandatory retirement when the legislature resumes in the spring. Eliminating mandatory retirement is one of the 16 recommendations in the Premier’s Council on Aging and Seniors’ Issues report, entitled Aging Well in British Columbia.

Ontario passes law to help immigrants get licenses

Toronto — Ontario has passed The Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, which requires the province’s 34 regulating bodies to ensure their licensing process is “fair, clear and open.” A fairness commissioner will be appointed to assess registration and licensing practices, and review credential assessments to make sure they comply with the law. An access agency will also help foreign-trained professionals navigate the process of getting their credentials recognized. Questions remain about how the law will be enforced.

Canadian companies weak on internal controls

Kingston, Ont. — Canadian companies have looser financial controls than their counterparts in the United States, according to a research report by Queen’s University professor Steven Salterio and doctoral student Regan Schmidt. The study found 19 per cent of Canadian companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges have weaknesses in their internal controls, compared to 13 per cent of U.S. companies. Internal controls are the systems companies create to generate and verify the data used to prepare financial statements.

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