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Human Capital Law & Policy

This publication is devoted to tracking important trends in public policy and law that affect the workplace. Each new issue provides an analysis of a developing topic in human capital.

Immigration in BC: A Complex Tapestry

Immigration remains a key element in building a skilled workforce in BC and will play an even more significant role in the coming decade as the ranks of retiring baby boomers swell.

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Tapping a "Motherload" of Opportunity: How BC Can Gain From More Accessible Childcare

Women, particularly in the child-rearing years, are less active than their male peers in the workforce. The correlation between child-rearing and labour force participation is not coincidental.

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Labour Market Adaptation in the Age of Automation

As disruptive technologies push the frontiers of automation and encroach on some of the advantages that humans have been thought to possess over machines, the way we work is being transformed.

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Off to Work: Improving the School-to-Work Transition for Recent University Graduates

Human capital is maximized when a worker’s qualifications and skills match those required by their job. Delayed PSE school-to-work transitions may help to explain Canada’s lacklustre productivity growth.

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Federal Liberals Reverse Conservative Labour Legislation –
Does the Certification Model Have an Effect on Union Density?

The federal government is poised to enact Bill C-4 to reverse two pieces of legislation enacted by the Conservative government last year.

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An Update on Union Density in BC

After tracking Canadian density rates for a number of years, overall union density in BC has now moved visibly below the national benchmark.

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Projections Point to Balanced Labour Market Conditions in BC

The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently released its updated labour market projections.

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Labour Mobility an Essential Feature of Canada's Regional Labour Markets

Canada’s labour market is dynamic. People move freely across provincial borders for a mix of reasons, including varying economic and labour market conditions. Given Canada’s vast geography and differing industrial structures across the provinces, the ability of people to migrate to other regions is an essential element of the Canadian “common market.”

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Labour Demand and Supply in Canada: The Big Picture

Concerns over labour shortages continue to be voiced by some leading employer organizations. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Conference Board are among the groups that have identified shortfalls in the supply of workers as a priority public policy issue. Some individual industry sectors – from trucking to construction, the IT industry, mining, and the electricity sector, among many others – have produced reports that highlight current or projected national-level worker shortages in certain occupations. Such sentiments are also common among employers here in British Columbia.

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Trends in Unionization...in Canada and the Wider World

In many industrial countries the union movement is struggling to adapt to the accelerating pace of economic and technological change and related shifts in business practices, the structure of employment, and demographics. As jobs have migrated from manufacturing, resources and other goods-producing industries toward services, “union density” – the share of the workforce that belongs to a union – has been under downward pressure

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Resolving Strikes in Essential Services – The Supreme Court of Canada Weighs In

This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Delayne Sartison, Q.C., Partner, Roper Greyell.

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Will Future Labour Shortages Imperil the BC Economy?

The critical role of human capital in today’s economy, the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties finding qualified personnel, and demographic forecasts pointing to a steadily aging population and slower labour force growth all raise questions about the future supply of skills.

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Critical Success Factors and Talent Risks for BC

The September issue of this newsletter reviewed the international, labour market and public policy contexts for talent mobility and development and briefly identified key success factors and risks for British Columbia in achieving its workforce development goals. In this month’s issue, we explore each of these areas and offer suggestions for ensuring an adequate labour supply and successful workforce development in BC.

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'Talentism,' Mobility and Migration: Implications for BC's Labour Market

This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Kerry Jothen, CEO of Human Capital Strategies.

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Debate Over the Minimum Wage Heats Up

Proposals to increase the minimum wage have been gathering speed on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. In January, President Obama called on Congress to lift the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, an idea quickly rejected by Republican Party leaders. But America’s national government doesn’t hold a monopoly on labour standards in that country; state and local governments also play a role. Since 2011, more than a dozen U.S. states and several cities have increased the minimum wages in their jurisdictions. Earlier this year, Seattle adopted a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, the highest among all big American cities.

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Alberta’s Demand for Workers is Affecting the Labour Market in BC

Within Canada there are no restrictions on labour mobility. People move freely between provinces to find employment, to retire, to attend school, or for other reasons. The past few years have seen mounting anecdotal evidence that strong demand for workers in Alberta is impacting the BC labour market by luring younger, often skilled workers from this province. Some employers in BC report they have been losing employees to our eastern neighbour. Looking ahead, this trend is likely to contribute to a tightening of the BC labour market as economic growth gradually accelerates.

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Jobs, Income and Post-Secondary Education

By global standards, Canada is a well-educated nation. As of 2011, almost two-thirds of the population aged 25 to 64 had completed some form of post-secondary education (PSE) – 27% had a university degree (bachelor’s to doctorate), while 37% possessed a credential from a college, trades, vocational or other post-secondary education or training program. By this broad measure, Canada’s rate of post-secondary attainment is the highest in the world. This should be good news: a well-established trend across the advanced economies is that higher levels of education are generally linked to improved employment prospects as well as to a greater likelihood of being in the workforce.

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New WorkSafeBC Policies on Bullying and Harassment - A Review of the Duties of Employers in BC

On July 1, 2012, Section 5.1(1)(a)(ii) of the Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”) was enacted. Part of this new provision provides that a worker’s mental disorder is compensable under the Act where that disorder is caused by a work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment. Taken together with Section 115 of the Act, Section 5.1 requires employers to address bullying and harassment as they would any other hazard in the workplace by taking all reasonable steps in the circumstances to ensure the health and safety of their workers, and those workers present at a workplace where their work is being carried out.

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BCBC Publication:
Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada: Separating Fact from Fiction

Human Capital Policy and Law Volume 3, Issue 3

The increase in the number of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Canada has sparked controversy and prompted a fair amount of unfavourable commentary over the past year or so. Some union leaders have suggested that foreign workers here on a temporary basis are displacing Canadians from jobs and distorting local labour markets. A few academic commentators have probed and raises questions about the legal rights and status of TFWs. In contrast, many business leaders point to the challenges companies face in finding people to fill jobs, notably in some regions, and argue that TFWs are often essential to their operations. Temporary foreign workers are also frequently sought for specific skills which may not be sufficiently available in the Canadian market.

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A Review of Trends in Union Density

An examination of the evolution of the position of trade unions in the overall labour market underscores the challenges facing the union movement in British Columbia and Canada as a whole. The term “union density” is used to track the proportion of paid workers who are covered by a collective agreement. It can be thought of as a proxy for the “market share” of unions within the employed workforce, excluding people who are classified as self-employed.

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