News briefs

Alberta’s red-hot economy scorches CFL players; Ontario slashes hydro salaries; Sask. seniors to pay $15 for drugs; Retirees sue Labatt; Top court overrules B.C.’s labour law; Man says he was fired for catching thieves


Alberta’s red-hot economy scorches CFL players

Edmonton — Alberta’s skyrocketing real estate prices left 20 new players for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos scrambling to find a place to live. Receiver T.J. Acree, a married father of one, played with the B.C. Lions last year and thought the housing situation in Alberta might be better. “I came from Vancouver and I expected a little break, but I don’t seem to be getting it,” he said. “I found a one-bedroom (for my family) for $1,200. That’s a lot. We don’t get paid as much as NFL players, that’s for sure.” The minimum salary in the CFL is $39,000 and the league average is $56,000. In the NFL, the league minimum for a rookie is $285,000 US and the average is about $1.4 million US. The team said it was screening offers from landlords and fans for places to live, and hoped to have the situation settled by opening day.

Ontario slashes hydro salaries

Toronto — The Ontario government is cutting salaries for new hydro executives at publicly owned utilities by up to 30 per cent. However, current executives’ pay will be untouched, with some of them earning more than $1 million. The pay cut was one of several recommendations in a report by former Molson chief executive James Arnett, which was commissioned after former Hydro One CEO Tom Parkinson was given a $3-million severance package. Fifteen of the province’s public-energy sector executives make more than $470,000 a year.

Sask. seniors to pay $15 for drugs

Regina — Saskatchewan residents 65 and older will pay no more than $15 for prescriptions under the province’s new seniors’ drug plan as of July 1. Low-income seniors who currently pay less than $15 per prescription will continue to do so. The Saskatchewan Workers’ Health Benefits program will also take effect on July 1 and give low-income workers better access to prescription drugs, eye exams and chiropractic services.

Retirees sue Labatt

London, Ont. — Hundreds of Labatt retirees have launched a class-action suit against the brewery and its Brazilian parent company AmBev, alleging the corporation unilaterally capped retiree health and drug benefits. The suit claims the cap constitutes a breach of each retiree’s employment contract and is seeking restoration of the benefits along with $50,000 in punitive damages for each member of the class action and their dependents — about 1,600 people. In March, Labatt announced its plan to cap cumulative lifetime health and drug benefits at $50,000.

Top court overrules B.C.’s labour law

Ottawa — The Supreme Court of Canada has thrown out sections of British Columbia’s Bill 29 for disregarding and undermining the collective bargaining process. The court said the collective bargaining process is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and actions to undermine that process are unconstitutional. The bill, which came into force in 2002, allowed Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government to tear up the B.C. Hospital Employees Union (HEU) contract and layoff more than 8,000 unionized health-care workers. To read an opinion piece by Gordon Sova, editor of CLV Reports, on this decision, go to www.hrreporter.com, click on “Advanced Search” and enter article #5277.

Man says he was fired for catching thieves

Midwest City, Okla. — A former Home Depot employee says the company fired him and three others because they helped police catch several suspected shoplifters. The former employee said they received termination letters stating they were fired because they “pursued and assisted in the apprehension of suspected shoplifters.” However, the employee said all he did was call the police, something he did less than a year ago during another robbery and for which he received a letter of commendation. An internal company memo states that employees cannot accuse, detain, chase or call the police on any customer for shoplifting.

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