News Briefs

Long-term vacancies increasing; Plumber jailed for obstructing safety inspector; $68 million pledged to N.B. labour market; Feds appoint work stoppage expert; Ontario hikes minimum wage, again

Long-term vacancies increasing

Ottawa — Businesses are feeling the pressure of labour shortages as 309,000 jobs remained vacant for at least four months in 2007, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). One-third of employers had trouble finding employees last year and the national long-term vacancy rate (percentage of jobs vacant for at least four months) rose to 4.4 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent in 2006. Saskatchewan had the highest rate at 6.6 per cent, followed by Alberta at 6.3 per cent. However, it was the Atlantic provinces that saw the biggest increases in long-term vacancy rates. To address shortages, the CFIB has recommended tapping into under-represented groups, including immigrants and seniors, as well as better recognizing and encouraging informal training at smaller workplaces.

Plumber jailed for obstructing safety inspector

Toronto — A plumbing contractor was sentenced to seven days in jail and fined $3,000 for pushing a government health and safety inspector. The Ministry of Labour inspector visited a Toronto construction site on Jan. 24, 2006. When the inspector asked Ion Cenuser why he wasn’t wearing protective footwear, the plumbing contractor began swearing at the inspector. Cenuser then followed the inspector into the site trailer, where he grabbed and pushed the inspector across the trailer.

$68 million pledged to N.B. labour market

Saint John, N.B. — The federal government has pledged $68 million over the next six years to increase the number of skilled workers in New Brunswick. Through the Canada-New Brunswick labour market agreement, New Brunswick residents who are ineligible for training assistance under the employment insurance program, including Aboriginals, immigrants and persons with disabilities, will be able to upgrade their skills. The funds will also be used to improve adult literacy and help workers move from low-skilled work to better jobs in occupations such as health care and construction. Similar federal-provincial agreements have also been signed with British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Feds appoint work stoppage expert

Ottawa — In response to a 2005 study that found Canada ranked first among G7 countries in the number of days per worker lost due to labour disputes, the federal government has appointed an expert to study the causes and effects of work stoppages. Labour lawyer Peter Annis was appointed by Minister of Labour Jean-Pierre Blackburn to look at the state of industrial relations in Canada, examine best practices across the country, consult with employers and unions and develop recommendations for the government. He is expected to submit his report in about six months’ time.

Ontario hikes minimum wage, again

Toronto — Ontario’s minimum wage will increase to $8.75 an hour on March 31, the fifth increase since 2004, when the minimum wage was at $6.85. The minimum wage will reach $10.25 an hour in 2010.

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