News briefs

Alberta butts out; Immigration lowers domestic wages; Ontario reviews skilled trade certification; Working out at work; Ceridian enters buy-out deal; Military recruitment booming; Canada leads industrialized countries in work stoppages; Oshawa GM plants most efficient

Alberta butts out

Edmonton — Alberta is banning smoking in all public places and work sites. The legislation, which will also ban tobacco sales in pharmacies and on post-secondary campuses and outlaw promotional cigarette displays in retail stores, will be voted on in the fall. The law isn’t expected to come into force for another year-and-a-half. The legislation will replace the Smoke-free Places Act, which requires Alberta municipalities to prohibit smoking in public places accessible to minors.

Immigration lowers domestic wages

Ottawa — Immigration tends to lower wages in Canada and the United States, according to Statistics Canada. However, the impact depends on the skill mix of immigrants. In Canada, where more immigrants are highly skilled, the effect has been to lower the wages of highly skilled domestic workers. But in the U.S., where more immigrants are lower skilled, the effect has been to depress the wages of low-skilled domestic workers.

Ontario reviews skilled trade certification

Toronto — The Ontario government is looking at expanding compulsory certification for skilled trades. Of the 140 skilled trades that currently offer apprenticeship training in the province, 21 require compulsory certification. Voluntary qualifications allow individual employers, workers and consumers to determine the level of training required for a specific task. Compulsory qualifications require all work in the trade be performed by a fully certified tradesperson or a registered apprentice.

Working out at work

Edmonton — A new website will help employers encourage employees to get the exercise they need before, during and after work. The Alberta Centre for Active Living launched the Physical Activity @ Work site,, at the end of May. Features include “yoga @ your desk” videos, which provide routines that can be done during a coffee break, and a personal activity tracker so employees can set goals and track their progress.

Ceridian enters buy-out deal

Winnipeg — Business process outsourcing giant Ceridian has been bought by investment firm Thomas H. Lee Partners and insurance company Fidelity National Financial for about $5.3 billion US. Ceridian shareholders will receive $36 US per share — a 17-per-cent premium over Ceridian’s closing share price on Feb. 12, the day before the company announced its strategic review. The deal is subject to shareholder approval at Ceridian’s annual meeting, which will be held no later than Sept. 21. A Canadian analyst said the acquisition will allow Ceridian, which is best known in Canada for its payroll services, to provide broader HR offerings.

Military recruitment booming

Calgary — The Canadian Armed Forces are having no trouble attracting soldiers. Speaking at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference earlier this month, General Rick Hillier said the military has already hired 12,000 people this spring, making the drive “106 per cent successful.” He said there were 25,000 applications to the Forces last year, and this year there have already been 35,000. Hillier also boasted about how the military has streamlined the recruitment process from “years to days.” About 30 per cent of applicants are fully enrolled in just five days, he said.

Canada leads industrialized countries in work stoppages

Ottawa — Canada had the second highest number of days lost to work stoppages in the industrialized world between 1995 and 2004, according to a new British study. Between those years, Canada’s number of days lost per 1,000 employees due to labour strife averaged 193 compared to an average of 48 days among all industrialized countries, according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics, which drew its data from the International Labour Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Iceland led the way in work stoppages, but most of its strikes took place during a financial crisis in 2004.

Oshawa GM plants most efficient

Oshawa, Ont. — The two General Motors assembly plants in Oshawa, Ont., are the most efficient in North America, according to a recent auto industry productivity study. GM’s Oshawa No. 2 car plant took an average of 15.68 hours to assemble a vehicle while the No. 1 plant took 16.34 hours, according to the annual study published by Harbour Consulting of Troy, Mich. In all, four Canadian plants ranked among the top 10 in North America and all Canadian plants had above-average performance compared to plants in the United States and Mexico.

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