Labour & Employment Policy
BC’s changing demographics and shifting employment opportunities present key challenges for employers, such as how to find enough skilled workers, how to adjust to a more diverse and aging workforce and how to comply with workplace regulations. The Council encourages rigorous analysis and proactive policies to address labour issues in advance of marketplace challenges. The Council also promotes effective relationships between employers and employees by providing information to its members on important labour issues and advising government on policies that affect the workplace.
Post-Secondary Education A Key Determinant of Economic Success
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Reports from the BC Progress Board and the recent Commission on Reform of Ontario’s Public Services underscore some important facts about globalization and the acceleration of the knowledge economy: people are our most important economic asset – more important than resources, more important than financial capital.
Jock Finlayson: The future of Canadian unions is bleak
Recent news that two of Canada’s biggest unions are contemplating joining forces points to the challenges confronting trade unions in today’s hyper-competitive economy.
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) are looking at merging to enhance their bargaining power and their ability to advance the interests of their members. In late August, the CAW formally voted to combine with the CEP, which itself will take up the matter in the fall.
BC More Than Holding Its Own Amid Global Economic Turbulence
At a time of pronounced global uncertainty, BC's economy continues to grow at a decent pace and to outperform many other North American provinces and states. Although there are significant downside risks, BC's economy remains quite resilient with a rapidly shrinking deficit, an increasingly diversified export sector and steady population growth.
Over the 2010-2011 period, BC’s real economic growth averaged 3% - the fourth strongest in Canada and among the top jurisdictions in North America. Although growth will ease over the coming 18 months, this resilience will help to sustain provincial economic activity and keep BC in a relatively strong position even in the face of weaker international conditions.
The Business Council's mid year economic review and outlook anticipates that BC’s economy will grow by 2.0% for 2012 and 2.2% for 2013. Relative to our January outlook there is no change in the forecast for this year, but we have trimmed our growth projection for 2013 due to global turbulence and a slower local housing market.
Industrial Relations Bulletin
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Public Sector pensions are sure to be reviewed
By Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia
With governments across the country addressing budget deficits pushed higher by the 2008-09 recession, attention is turning to the pay levels of employees in the public sec-tor and how these compare with private-sector practices.
Class Action Litigation - A New Tool for Union Organizing?
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On March 5, 2012, the BC Supreme Court certified a class action, brought on behalf of temporary foreign workers recruited to work in a Denny’s Restaurant franchise in Vancouver: Dominguez v. Northland Properties Corp (COB Denny’s Restaurants). The lawsuit alleged that recruiting companies engaged by the Denny’s franchisee charged agency fees contrary to the Employment Standards Act, and claimed damages, aggravated damages and punitive damages against the franchisee for breach of contract in failing to pay overtime and provide 40 hours of work per week as promised, as well as breach of fiduciary duty, a duty of good faith and fair dealing, and unjust enrichment.
2012 Federal Budget: Some Key Issues for Employers
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The 2012 federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on March 29 included a number of measures of interest to Canadian employers. In this issue of Human Capital Law and Policy, we note the key features of the budget from an employer perspective and comment briefly on the implications of the policy directions signaled by the government.
Manufacturing: An Overlooked but Important Industry in the Lower Mainland
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Manufacturing is a significant but underemphasized part of the Lower Mainland’s diverse economy. Because the region does not have a single high-profile manufacturing company (such as Boeing in the Seattle area) or a dominant industry cluster, manufacturing is often overlooked. However, the sector deserves attention because it occupies a sizable place in the region’s economy and is a key source of exports to other markets.
So You Think You're Not The Employer...
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Many organizations arrange their corporate affairs and relationships to minimize the extent to which they will be viewed as an “employer” of the individuals with whom they have a working relationship. The success of such attempts, however, will depend not only on the details of the arrangement, but also on the forum in which the relationship is being examined. A relationship that might be viewed as employer-employee in one setting might not be seen the same way in another.
How Big (and What Is) the 'Green Economy'?
The Challenge of Counting 'Green Jobs' in BC
Environment and Energy Bulletin v4 n1
“Having announced the imminent arrival of the green economy, we’re scrambling to define exactly what that means…”
The above quote neatly sums up the current conundrum about what many people now refer to as the “green” or “clean” economy: although the idea is much celebrated, it is hard to pin down in a satisfactory way. Politicians, media commentators, and non-governmental organizations routinely laud the potential to create thousands of new “green jobs.” Shortly after taking office, US President Barak Obama proclaimed, “As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs - but only if we accelerate that transition.” Closer to home, former Premier Gordon Campbell championed the idea of BC as a North American leader in developing and selling clean (carbon-free) energy. British Columbia’s pioneering economy-wide carbon tax, the first of its kind in North America, was linked to an expectation of robust growth in “green” industries and related gains in employment. At the municipal level, political leaders in the City of Vancouver are convinced that the green sector is destined to drive the region’s economy and foster the development of tens of thousands of new, high-paying jobs.
A Snapshot of Incomes in British Columbia
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While economists often seem preoccupied with somewhat abstract indicators like gross domestic product, productivity and current account balances, arguably the economic variable of most interest to people is income. As defined by Statistics Canada (and similar agencies in other countries), income has two key components: 1) the “market incomes” received by individuals and households from employment, savings, investments, occupational pensions, rents, and entrepreneurial activity; and 2) “government transfers” such as social assistance, pensions, unemployment insurance, and the GST tax credit, which are remitted directly to households by the state.
EI Rate Consultation - Are Employers Paying True Insurance Premiums?
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On August 18, 2011 the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) put out a call for consultation as to how the EI rate-setting mechanism could be improved, with submissions due by November 30, 2011. The technical aspects of EI rate-setting may not be top-of-mind for most BC businesses. However, there are aspects of the Employment Insurance program, including rate-setting, that raise significant cost issues for business that should not be ignored.
Immigration Consultation - Employers Need to Respond
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On August 29, 2011, the Federal Government, under Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, launched an online public consultation process seeking stakeholder input related to Canada’s immigration program. The consultation process provides an interesting starting point for a discussion of the policy considerations that underlie immigration to Canada and the nature of our current system. It also provides an impetus for employers and business leaders to take an active role in shaping not only immigration policy, but the successful implementation of the policy.
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Changes - Will They Be Enough?
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On August 26, 2011, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal reached out to its stakeholders for feedback and recommendations with respect to any issues or concerns. A broad invitation indeed. However, the invitations is in the context of a request – it is not clear from whom – that the Tribunal "undertake a broad review of its policies, procedures and practices with a view to assessing and improving its process from a variety of perspectives". While any review designed to improve the Tribunal’s processes is welcomed, the employer community might well be concerned, given what has occurred over the last year, that hoped-for amendments to the Human Rights Code may end here, with a review of Tribunal processes.
Temporary Foreign Workers in British Columbia
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Canada has a long tradition of attracting immigrants to become permanent residents. Immigration built the country and is the foundation for much of the growth in the post WWII era. The context for international migration, however, is changing and being reshaped. The globalization of labour markets, instant access to information from around the world, greater connectivity and reduced transportation costs, and the expansion of trade have all made international migration a possibility for a larger share of the world’s population than in the past. The result is a significant increase in the volume and types of movement between many jurisdictions. While permanent population movements still dominate migration patterns to advanced countries, there are now greater numbers of temporary movements for work and education-related reasons. While Canadian international migration policy remains focused on permanent settlement, the shifting global landscape, an aging domestic workforce, a large number of major projects in the pipeline, the growing need for highly specialized skills, and regional labour disparities all point to a greater role for temporary workers in B.C. in many sectors.
How are Unions Faring in Today's Economy?
The month of September heralds Labour Day, making it an opportune time to review the place of trade unions in today’s increasingly complex economy. Trade unions remain an important factor in British Columbia. But their influence is waning, particularly in the private sector. This is starkly evident in the data on “union density” – the share of all workers who belong to a trade union. Falling union density is a well-established trend in British Columbia and other provinces, as well as in the United States. In 2006, 30.2 per cent of paid employees in BC were unionized. By 2009, the share had fallen to 29.1 per cent.
Where will the Workers Come From? British Columbia Labour Force Projections to 2030
Authored by Ken Peacock and Jock Finlayson, Business Council of British Columbia
Changing People Changing Places: Demographic and Economic Change in British Columbia
Authored by David Baxter, Andrew Ramlo and Erin Ramlo, Urban Futures