News briefs

B.C. privacy legislation flawed • Older workers less cost effective • Violence at work • You work here, you live here • Labour fights fed HR modernization • Manitoba immigration initiative • Wal-Mart gets slap on wrist

B.C. privacy legislation flawed

— Proposed privacy legislation in British Columbia does not pass the test set by the federal government, according to federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski. In a letter to the B.C. government, Radwanski said the federal government would not recognize the law because there are “a number of very grave deficiencies.” Federal legislation comes into force on Jan. 1, 2004 in all jurisdictions that have not passed legislation that is “substantially similar.” According to Radwanski, the B.C. legislation — if passed as is — would still be in force but would operate concurrently with the federal law, not replace it.

Older workers less cost effective

— It costs the City of Toronto $68 to pick up a tonne of garbage but just $49 a tonne when contractors do it because workers for the city are on average 16 years older, according to a report from the city’s solid waste division. “In the private sector — and I don’t know how to sugar coat this — they know it’s a young man’s game,” Angelos Bacopolous, solid waste manager, told the Toronto Star. “When a person starts to fall apart, they bring a younger guy in.”

Violence at work

— One-third of Quebec workers witnessed violence in the workplace last year, according to a study commissioned by Quebec’s HR association. Thirty-three per cent of respondents to the poll conducted by CROP said they knew of instances of physical, psychological, verbal or sexual aggression.

You work here, you live here

Saint John, N.B.
— Despite legal advice to the contrary, the city council in Saint John, N.B., wants to force all of its employees to live within city limits. The council asked the city manager to develop a policy that will make a residency clause a condition of employment. About one-quarter of all city employees live outside the city. The city already has a residency clause but stopped enforcing it after a Supreme Court of Canada decision raised questions about the legality. Councillor Eric Teed wants to start enforcing the rule again until the courts order it stopped.

Labour fights fed HR modernization

— The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says it will “strongly pressure” Ottawa to make amendments to legislation meant to modernize the federal government’s HR framework, introduced in February. The government said the changes will make it easier to “attract, retain and develop the people it needs, and to maintain a healthy and productive workplace.” But PSAC, the largest union in the federal civil service, opposes a number of labour relations changes and is unhappy the government’s merit principle, long the basis for hiring in the federal public sector, is being amended.

Manitoba immigration initiative

— As part of its effort to increase immigration to the province to 10,000 people per year, the Manitoba government has created a new advisory council made up of business, labour and multicultural organizations. “This council will help the province establish the proper supports so immigrants can build new lives and help make this province a more dynamic place,” said Becky Barrett, Labour and Immigration Minister.

Wal-Mart gets slap on wrist

— A Quesnal, B.C. Wal-Mart has been rebuked by the British Columbia Labour Relations Board for interfering in a union certification effort. Despite being a favourite target of organized labour, the American retail giant has largely kept unions out of its stores. The board ordered Wal-Mart representatives to read out the board’s decision and union leaders will be given 30 minutes with workers without management present to discuss the benefits of unionization.

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