News Briefs

Changes to Ontario’s drug system; New tool helps employers attract and train apprentices; Manitoba cellphone law takes effect July 15; Income growth stalls: StatsCan; Changes to Saskatchewan’s construction labour laws

Changes to Ontario’s drug system

Toronto — Ontario’s move to slash generic drug prices by at least 50 per cent took effect on July 1. Other changes to the province’s drug system include eliminating “professional allowances” — the payments generic drug companies make to pharmacy owners in exchange for stocking their products. Dispensing fees paid to rural pharmacies will also increase by as much as $5 per prescription and a transition fund will help pharmacies adapt to the new system.

New tool helps employers attract and train apprentices

Ottawa — A new database from the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum will help employers recruit and train apprentices. The Apprenticeship Works: Build on It database has information on the value of apprenticeship training, recruiting tips and interview guides, handbooks for implementing a mentoring program, tools for identifying skills gaps and worksheets to track apprentices’ progress and development.

Manitoba cellphone law takes effect July 15

Winnipeg — Drivers caught texting or using hand-held cellphones in Manitoba could face a fine of almost $200 under a new law that takes effect July 15. A public-education, multimedia campaign is reminding motorists if they are on the road, they should stay off the phone and text devices. The amendments to the Highway Traffic Act allow the use of cellphones to make telephone calls while driving, provided they are equipped as hands-free devices and used in a hands-free manner. Motorists can also use a hand-held cellphone to call the police, fire or ambulance service in an emergency. Under the new law, motorists could also face a fine of almost $200 for smoking in vehicles when children under the age of 16 are present.

Income growth stalls: StatsCan

Ottawa — After four years of growth, the average after-tax income for families with two or more people in 2008 was virtually unchanged from 2007 at $63,900, according to Statistics Canada. Income for single individuals was also stable at $24,900, following three years of growth. Provincially, families in Saskatchewan and British Columbia saw their incomes increase by 5.7 per cent, while single people in Alberta and Manitoba saw their incomes increase by 13 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. More than three-million Canadians lived in a low-income situation in 2008, virtually unchanged from 2007. This represents 9.4 per cent of the population.

Changes to Saskatchewan’s construction labour laws

Regina — Saskatchewan construction companies now have more flexibility in dealing with unions following changes to the province’s Construction Industry Labour Relations Act which took effect on July 1. Under the 1992 act, journeymen and apprentices on unionized sites were required to join the single-trade union that represents their particular trade. The amendments to the act, Bill 80, allow a trade union to organize a company on a multi-trade, or “all employee,” basis as well as on a single-trade basis. Also, employers can choose the Representative Employers’ Organization that will represent them in collective bargaining. Under Bill 80, an employer can file an abandonment complaint against a trade union that has been “inactive in promoting and enforcing its bargaining rights against the employer for a period of at least three years before the application.”

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