News Briefs (October 23, 2000)

Welcome to Canada, you’re hired

Ottawa — With the domestic labour pool shrinking, Ottawa plans to give higher points to immigrants with work experience and flexible skills. Changes to the point system used to select independent immigrants would triple points for work experience. The government also plans to scrap the “occupations list” that bases points on a potential immigrant’s current job and replace it with points based on an immigrants “flexible skills.” While people pour into Canada in increasing numbers, the number leaving Canada for work in the United States reached a five-year high, according to Statistics Canada.

U.S. INCREASES HIGH-TECH VISAS

Washington — A lot more high-tech workers could be making their way to the U.S., after Congress voted to increase the number of visas issued to foreign high-tech workers. Canadians do not need an H-1B visa to work in the United States, but the increase means U.S. firms will be getting a bigger piece of the global IT worker pie. In previous years, just 115,000 of the high-tech visas were issued but each year for the next three years, the U.S. government will hand out 195,000. Canada is currently suffering from a shortfall of about 40,000 high-tech workers.

IT SHORTAGE SENDS SALARIES SOARING

Ottawa — The shortage of high-tech workers is sending salaries soaring. A survey conducted by Career Agent, a company representing high-tech employees, showed double-digit wage gains for some workers, with an average pay hike of $8,100 for software product development engineers. Pay for these workers jumped 11 per cent over last year, and now averages $81,600 annually.

STRICTER RULES FOR HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS

Toronto — New rules limiting the amount and duration of workers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals brings Ontario workplace limits in line with Canadian workplaces. Limits placed on 204 hazardous chemicals were passed Sept. 30 and compliance is mandatory under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Ontario was one of the last provinces to accept the limits recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

NAP TIME FOR 911 CALL CENTRE

Concord, N.H. — Employees handling 911 calls on the night shift are being allowed to use their break time for naps. Employees at the government-operated New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Communications can now take officially sanctioned naps during their 30-minute break. While private companies are taking a more tolerant approach to night workers taking naps, the 911 call centre is one of the first government-run operations where the naps have been sanctioned.

CRUEL BRITANNIA?

Glasgow, U.K. — Just one-quarter of British workers are happy in their jobs, voting the nation the third most miserable place to work in the world, ahead of only China and Japan, according to a recent survey. The same study found more than 40 per cent of French and Australian workers are satisfied with their jobs. Brits work longer than anyone else in Europe and have less job security.

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