News Briefs

Salary increases still above inflation; CFIB calls for Ont. minimum wage freeze; Steep job losses in manufacturing over last four years; Alta. predicting job losses and deficit

Salary increases still above inflation

Ottawa —Expected average salary increases for 2009 have dropped from a projection of 3.9 per cent in the summer to 2.9 per cent in December, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Compensation Planning Outlook winter update. However, with total inflation expected to be at 0.7 per cent in 2009, workers can still expect to receive increases that outpace inflation. Planned salary increases for non-union employees dropped from 3.9 per cent to 2.9 per cent, while increases for unionized employees dropped from 3.2 per cent to 2.7 per cent. The greatest declines in average increases are seen at the senior executive and executive levels, which fell from 4.1 per cent to 2.8 per cent.

CFIB calls for Ont. minimum wage freeze

Toronto — The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on the Ontario government to cancel the Mar. 31 increase in the minimum wage, citing the deteriorating state of the economy. At $8.75, Ontario’s minimum wage is second only to Nunavut at $10 an hour. Instead of helping the working poor, minimum wage increases are hurting the very people who are in a position to help, namely small- and medium-sized employers, said CFIB’s Ontario director Satinder Chera. Instead of raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, CFIB is calling on the government to help people upgrade their skills to qualify for better-paying jobs and increasing the amount people can earn without paying provincial income tax.

Steep job losses in manufacturing over last four years

Ottawa — Canada lost nearly 322,000 manufacturing jobs from 2004 to 2008, with more than one in seven manufacturing jobs disappearing over the period, according to “Trends in manufacturing employment” from Statistics Canada. Only a few industries saw job growth, notably manufacturing of transportation equipment (excluding motor vehicles and parts), petroleum and coal products, and computer and electronic products. The textiles and clothing industry lost almost one-half of its jobs over the four-year period and one in five motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs were lost. Ontario lost the majority of manufacturing jobs, with 198,600 job losses, or 18.1 per cent of the province’s manufacturing jobs. Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia also lost more than 10 per cent of their manufacturing jobs.

Alta. predicting job losses and deficit

Edmonton — Alberta is facing a recession and 15,000 lost jobs, according to the province’s latest economic update. Alberta’s economy is expected to contract by two per cent over the next year, said Finance Minister Iris Evans. The province is running a deficit, the first in 15 years, of about $1 billion. The province blames low energy prices and the global credit crunch for the change in economic fortunes. It predicts Alberta’s unemployment rate will hit 5.8 per cent, up from 4.4 per cent in January. However, the economy will improve at the beginning of 2010, predicted Evans.

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