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CRA announces 2012 maximum earnings • EI program should be simplified: Report • October jobless rate jumps on hefty layoffs • Food services calling for EI freeze • Canadians least likely to bill for time they do not work: Survey

CRA announces 2012 maximum earnings

The maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2012 will be $50,100 — up from $48,300 in 2011, according to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The new ceiling was calculated according to a CPP legislated formula that takes into account the growth in average weekly wages and salaries in Canada. Contributors who earn more than $50,100 in 2012 are not required or permitted to make additional contributions to the CPP. The basic exemption amount for 2012 remains $3,500. Individuals who earn less than that amount do not need to contribute to the CPP. The employee and employer contribution rates for 2012 will remain unchanged at 4.95 per cent, and the self-employed contribution rate will remain unchanged at 9.9 per cent. The maximum employer and employee contribution to the plan for 2012 will be $2,306.70, and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $4,613.40. The maximums in 2011 were $2,217.60 and $4,435.20.

EI program should be simplified: Report

The federal employment insurance program plays favourites among Canada’s regions and sustains costly, long-lasting pockets of high unemployment, according to the authors of a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. The EI program should be simplified, with nationwide standards for the number of hours of work needed to qualify for benefits, and for how long benefits should be received, said senior policy analyst Colin Busby and professor David Gray in Mending Canada’s Employment Insurance Quilt: The Case for Restoring Equity. Laid-off workers in regions with high unemployment rates have easier access to long-lasting EI benefits than laid-off workers in regions with low unemployment rates. One main consequence is the creation and preservation of pockets of high, chronic unemployment in labour markets dominated by seasonal employment. The program slows or stops the adjustment process and deters people from moving to better opportunities, hindering cross-country convergence of wages and unemployment rates. The EI program should be simplified to better address unemployed workers’ needs, the authors said. Reform should aim at a more dynamic, flexible and buoyant labour market. This means ending regional criteria for eligibility and the length of the benefit period and replacing those criteria with uniform, countrywide standards. This would strengthen all communities over time and leave Canada’s regions less susceptible to the harms that inevitably follow from global economic shocks.

October jobless rate jumps on hefty layoffs

— Unexpected job losses in October pushed Canada’s unemployment rate higher, confirming expectations the economy is weakening and interest rate increases are off the radar. The economy unexpectedly ditched almost all the jobs gained in September as a sluggish economy led to layoffs in manufacturing and construction, according to Statistics Canada. Net job losses of 54,000 were the largest since February 2009 and pushed the unemployment rate back up to 7.3 per cent — the same level seen in August — from 7.1 per cent. The data contrasted with market expectations for 12,000 new positions and followed an equally surprising increase in September of nearly 61,000. Most of the details in the report were discouraging, with the private sector shedding 32,000 jobs and some 72,000 full-time positions vanishing.

Food services calling for EI freeze

One day after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the planned 2012 employment insurance hike would be halved, a business association said the cut is not enough. The increase will hit restaurant employers with a $13-million payroll tax increase — “a tough pill to swallow in these hard economic times,” said the Canada Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). CRFA wants federal government on behalf of its members to streamline and reform the EI system to ensure low, long-term, stable premium rates, according to the association. 

Canadians least likely to bill for time they do not work: Survey

Employees around the world admit to fudging timesheets in order to receive pay for time they weren’t working, according to a study from Kronos. But Canadians were the least likely in the survey — which also polled workers in Australia, China, France, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States — to admit to billing for hours they had not worked. Employees who currently use a time clock were asked if they had ever done anything to receive more pay such as clocking in earlier or out later than scheduled, having someone else clock them in or out, neglecting to clock out for lunch or breaks, adding time to timesheets or other activity along these lines, according to Kronos. In India, 73 per cent of people who currently use a time clock admitted to engaging in one or more of these behaviors, followed by 72 per cent in China, 51 per cent of those surveyed in Australia, 49 per cent in Mexico, 37 per cent of those surveyed in the U.K., 33 per cent of those surveyed in France, 33 per cent in the U.S. and 26 per cent of those surveyed in Canada.

Payroll earnings increase slightly: StatsCan

Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased 0.8 per cent from July to August, rising to $877.28, following two months of small declines. On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings rose 1.9 per cent, the lowest growth rate since November 2009. The 1.9 per cent year-over-year increase reflects a number of factors, including wage growth and changes in the composition of employment by industry, by occupation and by level of job experience. A decrease in average hours worked per week was also a factor in the 1.9 per cent year-over-year growth in earnings in August. The average work week declined 0.3 per cent from 33 hours in August 2010 to 32.9 hours in August 2011. Average hours fell in both the goods and services sectors. Average weekly hours increased 0.3 per cent from July, contributing to the 0.8 per cent increase in average weekly earnings. Average weekly earnings rose in every province in the 12 months to August.

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