News briefs

Employment reaches record high; Alberta launches consultation on aging workforce; EI rates drop in 2008 for 14th-straight year; Alberta to help foreign workers; Court rejects fining of workers who cross picket lines; Cape Breton wants its health-care workers back



Employment reaches record high

Ottawa — Employment reached an all-time high of 63.7 per cent in October, according to Statistics Canada. The monthly labour force survey also found the unemployment rate continued to drop in October, reaching a new 33-year low of 5.8 per cent. The 0.1-percentage-point drop in unemployment from September was due to the creation of 63,000 new jobs in October. Just like in September, more than one-half of employment gains were in Ontario, which saw 32,000 new jobs in October. Older workers (55 and over) accounted for the majority of the employment gain in October. Nearly one-third (32.2 per cent) of workers 55 and older were working in October, a record high.

Alberta launches consultation on aging workforce

Edmonton — The Alberta government is holding online consultations to give the public a chance to discuss issues and opportunities related to the province’s aging workforce. The online forum will run until Dec. 14, at which time results will be compiled into a report to support the development of future policies to meet the needs of mature workers. In Alberta, workers aged 45 and over account for more than one-third of the workforce. A discussion paper on older workers, Mature Workers in Alberta and British Columbia: Understanding the Issues and Opportunities, and the online consultation survey are available at www.alberta.ca in the section titled “participate in public consultations.”

EI rates drop in 2008 for 14th-straight year

Gatineau, Que. — The 2008 employment insurance rate has been set for employees at $1.73 per $100 of insurable earnings and $2.42 for employers by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. This is a 3.9-per-cent decline from the 2007 rate and the 14th consecutive rate reduction since 1994 when the employee rate was $3.07. The maximum insurable earnings will rise from $40,000 to $41,100 for 2008. In 2008, an employee earning $41,100 or more would contribute a maximum of $711.03 (a reduction of $8.97 from 2007) and his employer would contribute a maximum of $995.44 (a reduction of $12.56).

Alberta to help foreign workers

Edmonton — Alberta is setting up a special office to deal with complaints from temporary foreign workers. The federally run foreign worker program has drawn up to 60,000 foreign workers to Alberta. The new office will focus on ensuring temporary foreign workers are treated fairly and that the province’s labour laws and employment standards are maintained, according to Alberta Employment, which will oversee the office.

Court rejects fining of workers who cross picket lines

Toronto — The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has rejected the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s (PSAC) attempt to collect fines in court from two union members who crossed picket lines during a 2004 strike. The court called the fines “very unfair,” “extremely onerous” and “unconscionable in the circumstances.” The court also issued an order preventing any Ontario court from enforcing the collection of PSAC fines. However, the union said it will continue to fine members who choose to work during a strike.

Cape Breton wants its health-care workers back

Sydney, N.S. — The Cape Breton District Health Authority is trying to convince nurses and other health-care workers in Alberta to go east. The main focus is on getting former residents to return home, but the team, who was in Edmonton last month, is also trying to attract non-native Nova Scotians to fill the acute shortage of health-care workers in northern Nova Scotia. The district’s eight hospitals and two long-term care facilities have an immediate need for 40 nurses as well as pharmacists, radiation technologists, psychologists and other staff.

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