News briefs

Supreme Court favours broad whistle-blower protection; Forestry deaths rising in B.C.; Traffic wastes $6 billion; Paying for board director expertise; The holiday in question is Christmas

Supreme Court favours broad whistle-blower protection
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says there should be no distinction between blowing the whistle on your company’s wrongdoing and telling higher ups about a supervisor’s improper behaviour. Linda Merk of Saskatchewan was terminated by her employer, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, after blowing the whistle to officials within the union about the double-dipping practices of one of her supervisors. Under Saskatchewan legislation whistle-blowers are protected when informing “authorities” and the union argued this meant public officials. Saskatchewan has already reworded legislation to include whistle-blowing within your own company.

Forestry deaths rising in B.C.
VANCOUVER — On Nov. 19, Ted Gramlich became the 38th forestry worker to die on the job in British Columbia this year. Deaths in the sector are double last year’s total and 50 per cent higher than the average over the last five years. A growth in self-employed contractors is having a negative effect on health and safety, the Vancouver Sun reports. Forestry workers say the practice of subcontracting to smaller firms leaves forestry workers in a pattern of layoffs and rehires that has them exhausted and uncertain of steady work.

Traffic wastes $6 billion
VANCOUVER — Commuters stuck in traffic cost the Canadian economy $6 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted gas, Transport Canada told delegates at an international transit forum held in Vancouver last month. Time is money, and it’s being squandered by workers who are unable to get to their jobs in a timely fashion.

Paying for board director expertise
OTTAWA — Compensation for corporate directors increased 41 per cent between 2002 and 2004, the Conference Board of Canada reports. Among 49 firms surveyed, board director compensation increased from an annual average of $26,000 to $37,000. Compensation is rising because of the increased workloads and the exposure to financial, reputation and personal risks in the post-Enron era. As well, companies are having difficulty finding board members with needed knowledge and technical expertise.

The holiday in question is Christmas
OXFORD, N.S. — This time of year many HR departments grapple with what to call corporate year-end parties and events. The word “Christmas” is often removed to avoid offending non-Christians, but it often has the reverse effect of disappointing people who don’t want their religious holiday ignored because of political correctness. Town councillors in Oxford, N.S., have passed a motion that leaves no room for discussion: the holiday is Christmas. Schools, businesses and community groups are urged to start calling it that. People have the right to use the word Christmas without offending anyone, says deputy mayor Leonard Allen.

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