News briefs

Federal offices must offer sign language service; 29 per cent of wives earn more than their husbands; Ferry seeks essential service designation to avoid strike; Mergers and acquisitions hit new record; Buzz Hargrove still head of CAW; A bedroom community for oil sands?; Ontario installing defibrillators in government buildings

Federal offices must offer sign language service

Ottawa — All federal government offices must provide service in sign language free of charge, ruled the Federal Court in a decision that deaf advocates say puts sign language on par with official languages English and French. Previously the 300,000-strong deaf community had to pay for sign-language interpreters. “It is fundamental to an inclusive society that those with disabilities be accommodated when interacting with the institutions of government,” wrote Justice Richard Mosley, in the decision.

29 per cent of wives earn more than their husbands

Ottawa — The share of women earning more than men in dual-income households has nearly tripled between 1967 and 2003, according to Statistics Canada. In 2003, the wife was the primary breadwinner in nearly 1.4 million of the 4.7 million dual-earner couples, and 29 per cent of women earned more than their husbands, according to Wives as Primary Breadwinners. However, women who were the primary breadwinners still earned less than husbands who were the primary breadwinners in other dual income households — $41,200 compared to $57,800.

Ferry seeks essential service designation to avoid strike

Port aux Basques, Nfld. — In a bid to prevent its 460 union workers from going on strike, Marine Atlantic wants to be deemed an essential service. In 2003 the Canada Industrial Relations board deemed the ferry service linking Newfoundland and Nova Scotia an essential service. However, the designation is no longer in effect. Members of the two unions, the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United Steelworkers, voted 95 per cent in favour of striking. The unions are seeking pay increases and better benefits.

Mergers and acquisitions hit new record

Toronto — Canadian merger and acquisition activity hit a record level in the second quarter of 2006. A total of 480 transactions, worth $86.1 billion, were announced in the second quarter, according to a report from investment banker Crosbie & Co. This is up from 420 for the same period last year and 420 in the first quarter of 2006. Many of the deals involved takeovers by foreign companies.

Buzz Hargrove still head of CAW

Vancouver — Buzz Hargrove was once again named president of the Canadian Autoworkers Union after his only opponent, Willie Lambert, withdrew the day before the vote. Hargrove has been president of the 265,000-member union since 1992, but said this three-year term will be his last. Also at the convention, union delegates voted to sever ties with the New Democratic Party, which had suspended Hargrove’s membership after he urged members to vote either Liberal or NDP in the last election, depending on who had the best chance of winning.

A bedroom community for oil sands?

Fort Smith, N.W.T. — Mayor Peter Martselos has announced plans to promote his town in the Northwest Territories as a bedroom community to the oil sands workers struggling to find housing in Fort McMurray, Alta., 360 kilometres away. As the northern Alberta town faces a shortage of 3,000 homes to meet current needs, Martselos said workers are welcome to live in the community and make the 45-minute air commute to the oil sands projects.

Ontario installing defibrillators in government buildings

Toronto — The Ontario government is moving forward on its commitment to install 250 portable heart defibrillators in provincial government buildings, with 51 already in place. Ontario public-service staff will be given training on how to use these units. Bill 71, which will protect users of the devices and owners and operators of the premises on which they’re installed from civil liability, has passed second reading.

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