Canadian HR Reporter

May 5, 2014

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 23

CANADIAN HR REPORTER CANADIAN HR REPORTER May 5, 2014 May 5, 2014 2 NEWS NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E FEATURED VIDEO No one ever expects to have cancer. When it strikes, having CAREpath as part of your benefit package shows your employees and their families how much you really care. Employees diagnosed with cancer are assigned a personal oncology nurse providing guidance and support throughout every stage of their cancer journey. CAREpath is the only complete cancer navigation provider in Canada. cancer? Does one of your employees have We'll be there. 1-866-599-2720 THE CANCER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM Anita McGowan, RN, CON(C), OCN Head Oncology Nurse Manager COMPENSATION (416) 498-7800 ext. 141 Compensation Surveys Incentive Programs Job Descriptions Job Evaluation Pay Equity Performance Appraisal Salary Administration Sales Compensation CONSULTING "Any employer found to have broken the rules will face serious consequences. Our message to employers is clear and unequivo- cal — Canadians must always be fi rst in line for available jobs." Two other franchises — one in Parksville, B.C., and one in Le- thbridge, Alta. — are also facing investigations after being brought to the ministry's attention later in the month. McD onald's imme diately distanced itself from the fran- chises and launched its own investigations. 'Canadians fi rst' e scandal, which comes just one year after RBC faced a similar controversy around the TFWP, sees questions arising again about hiring temporary foreign workers for low-skill jobs that many Cana- dian workers could qualify for. " ere's no doubt that we don't condone any abuse of the pro- gram," said Mark von Schellwitz, Vancouver-based vice-president for Western Canada at Restau- rants Canada. "We support any sort of new penalties for those who abuse the program, with the proviso that there is an appeals process in- volved as well." In the restaurant and food ser- vice industry, it's critically impor- tant that organizations follow the rules so the TFWP remains avail- able to those employers that really do need it, he said. "There's a lot of misconcep- tions, I think, out there about how somehow hiring temporary foreign workers or immigrants is a preferred option. We want to hire Canadians fi rst. It's our most cost- eff ective option and, by and large, we've been very successful," said von Schellwitz. "It should be kept in mind that of the 1.1 million people that we employ, less than two per cent are actually temporary foreign work- ers — and they're usually focused in a few regions of the country where unemployment rates are very low." Unfortunately, employers that abuse the program are seriously undermining those organizations that do follow the rules. e McDonald's case is far from an isolated incident, according to Jim Sinclair, Vancouver-based president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, which has threatened to organize a boycott of the res- taurant chain. "This example has been re- peated over and over again and under the program, once you bring temporary foreign workers in, they have to have 40 hours a week," he said. "So when they're laying people off or cutting back hours, they cut back Canadian residents, because under the program they can't cut back the temporary foreign work- ers… it's just one more fundamen- tal fl aw in the program." Regional, demographic diff erences Despite any fl aws or abuses, the TFWP can be invaluable for em- ployers in certain regions with very low unemployment rates, according to Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Fed- eration of Independent Business (CFIB) in Toronto. "We have to recognize that while the unemployment rate in Canada is higher than the percentage of positions that are sitting vacant, it doesn't much matter if you're in a region of the country or a sector of the econo- my where there are skills or labour shortages," he said. "So, at the macro level, some of the economists who are say- ing that there are no skills or la- bour shortages are correct but, at the micro level, that doesn't really give you much sympathy if you're in Estevan, Sask., looking for somebody to work at a quick- service restaurant and can fi nd nobody." In many communities — par- ticularly in resource-heavy prov- inces — some employers really are encountering a shortage of work- ers for low-skilled, entry-level po- sitions, he said. "With respect to sectoral la- bour shortages, we have to admit in Canada that there are jobs that Canadians are not terribly excited to do. And this is one of the things that we dance around, and it's po- litically incorrect to talk about. But I can understand why some- body who is $40,000 or $50,000 in debt after going through a liberal arts university program — I can understand why they're not ter- ribly excited to go and work at a quick-service restaurant." It used to be that the only labour market opinions you'd see were for seasonal agricultural workers or very high-skilled workers, said Alex Stojicevic, managing partner at Maynard Kischer Stojicevic in Vancouver. "Nowadays, there's been a huge expansion of the program — largely because of factors that have nothing to do with government policy particularly but ones that government policy is trying to grapple with, like devel- opment in Northern Alberta and the tar sands and various projects like this, as well as to some extent a declining Canadian birth rate," he said. " e problem with the great ex- pansion of such a program is that there are abuses. With more and more of these workers here, there are more and more issues." What needs to change? Stepped-up enforcement eff orts may not be enough to make the TFWP work as well as it could, said von Schellwitz. "We would love to see an ac- celerated labour market opinion process again that's regional in nature," he said, adding that this would target only those regions with low unemployment that re- ally need the program. Employers are also concerned about the elimination of the so- called "15 per cent discount," which allowed smaller fi rms — which often couldn't pay the in- dustry average wage — access to the program, said Kelly. Rules around high- and low- skilled workers could also be amended and clarified, said Stojicevic. "(We need) much clearer sets of rules in terms of advertising for higher skills and much more rigorous ones for lower skills. We have under-used or under-devel- oped sectors in our labour pool — First Nations People, seniors, et cetera… there has to be some mechanism where employers have to go and train those people fi rst or really show that they've spent some money trying to re- cruit before can we take them at their word at these lower skills levels," he said. "In these higher-skill areas, I think you can take the employer at their word that they're strug- gling to fi nd an engineer with a particular skill set, and there's less opportunity for exploitation when the base salary is $50,000 a year or $70,000 a year or $80,000 a year. But when you're bringing in workers for $12 an hour, or $11, and you're saying you can't fi nd Canadians to do that? Well, go train some." But no matter your opinion on what changes must be made, the crux of the controversy is that the program isn't working as intend- ed, said Sinclair. " is program was never de- signed or meant to be used to bring in tens of thousands of people to work in low-skilled jobs when we have high unemploy- ment rates." Stepped-up enforcement 'not enough' Stepped-up enforcement 'not enough' TFWP < pg. 1 " is example has been repeated over and over again." ACROSS CANADA U.S. expert recommends boosting apprenticeships in Canada in new report Says it should be common recruitment strategy for banking, sales, IT Two-thirds of workers distracted by emails, Internet, social media: Survey One-third losing up to 1 hour of productivity per day 360incentives, Google among best workplaces in Canada Royal LePage tops list for women BlackBerry's meltdown sparks startup boom in Canada's Silicon Valley Easier to recruit, retain talent AROUND THE WORLD 'Super tax' on African remittances hurts development: ink tank Charges 'indefensible' in age of mobile banking, Internet transfers China's workforce: Smaller, more savvy, more restive Biggest surge in strikes, protests since global fi nancial crisis U.K. unemployment falls below 7 per cent as earnings growth outstrips infl ation Pressure mounts for Bank of England to raise record-low benchmark interest rate Los Angeles should adopt Warren Buff ett pension formula: Study Projected rate of return should be 6 per cent, not 7.75 – would boost pension bill by US$560 million per year Organizational benefi ts of working with unions Blaine Donais, founder of Workplace Fairness Institute, talks to Canadian HR Reporter TV about how organizations can build relationships with unions to improve morale and business results

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian HR Reporter - May 5, 2014