Labour Briefs

3 agreements finalized to help New Brunswickers get jobs / Alberta ratifies 4-year contract with government staffers

3 agreements finalized to help New Brunswickers get jobs

FREDERICTONThree agreements have been signed by the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick to help connect citizens with available jobs.

"New Brunswick has the potential for a strong economy and employment growth over the coming years. To ensure the province’s prosperity, job openings have to be filled," said Rob Moore, regional minister for N.B.

"The agreements… will not only help create jobs and opportunities for New Brunswickers, they will also help develop the skilled workforce New Brunswick’s economy needs."

Part of the Canada Job Grant, the agreements will be delivered through the new Canada-New Brunswick Job Fund Agreement (formerly known as a labour market agreement).

The Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities was signed as part of the deal. With a focus on increased employer involvement, the new agreement is intended to better connect Canadians with disabilities to available jobs.

Reportedly, as many as 800,000 working-age Canadians with disabilities who are able to work are not currently doing so. Almost half of those individuals have post-secondary education.

The federal government will provide more than $5.9 million annually to N.B. under the agreement, a contribution that will be matched by the province.

Additionally, the federal and provincial governments signed the renewal of the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, a cost-shared initiative that provides training to unemployed older workers in an effort to help them re-enter the workforce. The agreement represents a three-year federal investment of more than $2.5 million.

"We are growing our province’s economy by focusing on people, skills and jobs. These agreements will allow us to serve New Brunswickers with flexible, responsive employment programs and services that will meet our province’s economic needs and challenges," said Jody Carr, N.B.’s minister of post-secondary education, training and labour.

"By working with communities, stakeholders and the federal government we will provide more job and career opportunities for vulnerable workers, the unemployed, persons with a disability and older workers while ensuring employers a greater role in training."

Alberta ratifies 4-year contract with government staffers

EDMONTON — After 16 months of bitter negotiations, Alberta has ratified a new contract with nearly 22,000 frontline employees.

Following a mail-in ballot count at the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) headquarters in Edmonton, the new four-year collective agreement came at a tumultuous time for labour and government relations, the union said.

"We’re pleased a negotiated agreement was reached that both sides find acceptable," said Guy Smith, AUPE’s president. "Given the recent history of these negotiations and the creation of Bill 46, being able to vote on this agreement is a victory for our members."

The hotly-contested Bill 46 was recently shot down in court after the union denounced it as a breach of basic rights. Otherwise known as the Public Salary Restraint Act, the legislation would have introduced a two-year pay freeze, followed by a one per cent increase in each of the final two years for public sector workers, whilst removing their right to binding arbitration. Had the government and AUPE not reached an agreement, the legislation was slated for effect in March. A judge said the legislation had serious damage potential for the state of labour relations in the province.

But after signing this most recent contract at the end of June, public sector staffers will see improvements to wages, vacations and indemnity protection. They will also get an increase in shift and weekend premiums as well as improved overtime provisions. The agreement also provides full recourse to members facing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

"The road to get here was rough, but through it all, AUPE members stood strong in the face of some unprecedented challenges," Smith added. "They should be proud."

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