Employment insurance recipient list falls to lowest level since 1997

OTTAWA _ Statistics Canada says the number of people collecting employment insurance in April fell to the lowest level in at least 21 years.

The federal agency says 453,100 people received the regular wage insurance payments in April, down 100,200 or 18 per cent since April 2017, and the lowest number since comparable data became available in 1997.

The reduction in beneficiaries was reflected in every province and coincides with a reduction in the national unemployment rate from 6.5 per cent to a record low of 5.8 per cent over same 12-month period.

StatsCanada also points out there was real gross domestic product growth in every province in 2017 for the first time since 2011.

The agency says the sharpest year-over-year decline in EI recipients took place in Alberta, where the 56,300 people collecting benefits was down nearly 29 per cent from a year earlier.

Other provinces with big declines included Quebec, down 24 per cent; British Columbia, 22 per cent; and Ontario and New Brunswick, each down by 16 per cent.

Changes in the number of beneficiaries are affected by the number of new claims, recipients who go back to work and the number who have exhausted their benefits.

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‘OK Google, find me a job’: New job search feature launches in Canada

‘OK Google, find me a job’: New job search feature launches in Canada

TORONTO _ Google has launched its job search feature in Canada.

The feature appears within its existing search engine, when users type in queries including “jobs near me”, “summer jobs”, “government jobs”, “work from home jobs” or “jobs in Canada”.

Once a user searches one of the terms or a similar work-related query, Google will offer webpages it determines are job postings.

The postings can be filtered to view opportunities based on the commute distance, job title and time commitment.

Users will also be able to save their job searches and set up email notifications to be alerted as soon as new postings appear.

The job search function was first piloted in the U.S. and India.

Google’s philanthropic arm is also giving $1 million to Toronto’s MaRS innovation hub to develop an employment platform that will launch next year and aims to help workers navigate the changing job market.

Tips On The Right Way To Fire Employees In Ontario

Article by Andrew N. Vey

Dismissing an employee is not a pleasant experience. But whether you like it or not, this is one task that most businesses will encounter at some point. As President Trump reminded us again this week after reports surfaced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned of his firing by way of a twitter post, there is both a right way and a wrong way to conduct employee terminations.

Ontario courts have recognized that employees are particularly vulnerable at the time of dismissal. As such, it is vital that employers carefully plan for any termination of employment. While there is no fixed formula for this process, here are a few tips that employers should bear in mind when approaching their next employee termination:

  • Ensure confidentiality and privacy: No employee should be forced to endure their dismissal from employment in a public setting. As such, be sure to keep the details of an employee’s termination as private as possible. Other than those directly involved, no other workers should learn of the employee’s dismissal prior to the event or be provided with any more than minimal information (i.e. person X no longer works with the company) after the dismissal. Termination meetings should be conducted in a private and discrete location away from the ordinary course of business. In addition, holding a termination meeting later in the day may also help avoid any unnecessary embarrassment for the worker.
  • Be brief and to the point: In so much as possible, try to keep termination meetings short. Termination meetings are by their very nature charged affairs so the longer they go on, the more potential there is for stress and confrontation. It can be helpful to prepare a brief script in advance to make sure you remember the topics that need to be covered in an efficient manner.
  • Have a witness and make notes: It is helpful to have at least two members of management, or human resources, attend at any termination meeting. This proactive step can be useful in the event that there is a future dispute as to what occurred in the course of the dismissal meeting. Essentially, the second employer representative is there to act as a witness. Additionally, as soon as the termination meeting is concluded, both employer representatives should immediately draft, sign and date notes as to what transpired in the termination meeting.
  • Be ready for the inevitable question “why?”: In almost every termination meeting, the employee in question will want to know why they are losing their job. While most provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are not required to give a reason when dismissing an employee without cause, as a matter of best practice, it is generally advisable to provide an answer. Not knowing why they are out of work will not only frustrate the employee but may precipitate legal action which could otherwise have been avoided. In giving a reason for the dismissal, be truthful and succinct.
  • Prepare a termination letter: There can be a lot of details involved in the dismissal of an employee. Issues range from severance to benefits coverage to accrued vacation (just to name of few). Having a written termination letter will help to ensure that all this information is addressed clearly and concisely for the employee and avoid misunderstandings about the employer’s position. It is common that employees will not hear or remember events in a termination meeting past the words “we’re letting you go” so having a written record of the terms of the dismissal can be of vital importance to the employee.
  • Be sensitive: When ending a worker’s employment, try to be as supportive and considerate as possible. Listen to their feedback and watch the employee’s mood and reactions. If they seem particularly distraught, offer to call a family member or cab to help them get home. Likewise, you can offer to have their effects packed up and sent to them if they don’t want to collect things personally. Where possible, avoid escorting the worker out of the workplace under guard after the meeting (but do keep an eye on them to ensure nothing improper happens). Finally, if the worker is known to be aggressive or volatile, make arrangements in advance to have security available should they need to called into the meeting and consider the safety of other staff members in carrying out the termination.
  • Don’t force decisions in the meeting: If you are making the employee a settlement offer in exchange for a release of claims against the employer, avoid having the employee decide on the spot. Even if they offer to sign immediately, it is generally best practice to advise them to go away and think about things. Should they wish to accept the employer’s offer, timelines and methods for doing so should be laid out clearly in the termination letter.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. Each employee dismissal will come with its own unique circumstances and challenges. However, with sufficient planning, organization and sensitivity to the employee, it is possible to get through the dismissal process in respectful fashion, while avoiding the creation of problems that may later come back to haunt the employer.

Originally published on March 16, 2018 at First Reference Talks.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

Nova Scotia to give up to 16 weeks unpaid leave to victims of domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence in Nova Scotia would be able to take up to 16 continuous weeks of unpaid leave under legislation introduced Thursday by the Liberal government.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis said amendments to the Labour Standards Code would ensure that victims will not lose their jobs when they need leave to seek help.

“This leave will provide support for those seeking safety from their abuser and allow victims the time they need to address the complex situation of domestic violence without the added stress and fear of losing their job,” said Kousoulis.

Kousoulis said the legislation would also provide 10 intermittent days to allow victims to seek out services and supports and includes a confidentiality provision for all employee information.

“I don’t even want the individual to have to provide a doctor’s note,” he said.

Kousoulis said individuals would “on their own word” be able to fill out a simple one-page form that they would provide to an employer. He said they wouldn’t have to provide details of their situation.

The changes would allow victims leave to seek medical attention, to obtain help from victim services organizations, to get legal help, and to relocate either temporarily or permanently.

The leave would also cover situations where an employee’s child is the victim of domestic violence.

According to the department, Manitoba, Ontario, and the federal government provide five paid days as part of their legislation. Alberta provides 10 days _ all unpaid _ while Quebec introduced a bill only last week that provided 26 weeks with two paid days.

Kousoulis said the province hasn’t ruled out paid leave days at a future point, but it wants to consider more information before potentially doing so.

“We want to get data back on how would a paid leave be different from an unpaid leave for individuals and also see how much time is being taken off,” he said.

Kousoulis said he has also written to federal officials to ask that Employment Insurance be extended to people who are in situations involving domestic violence, although he said he hasn’t heard back since making the request two months ago.

The minister said consultations on the bill with the business community were based on unpaid leave and he felt it was better to bring the bill forward now and potentially make additions, rather than hold it up for more consultations on paid leave.

Opposition critics were quick to praise the government’s move as a “good first step,” but they also questioned why a paid leave provision wasn’t included.

NDP critic Tammy Martin wondered how effective the change would be, especially for lower wage workers.

“The minister talked about going to see a lawyer,” said Martin. “How can they afford to see a lawyer let alone buy groceries if they are taking time off without pay?”

Interim Progressive Conservative leader Karla MacFarlane also wondered why the bill was brought forward now if pay provisions will eventually be added.

“The bill is incomplete,” said MacFarlane. “They say they want to ensure that there is economic stability _ well, prove it. It doesn’t say that in the bill yet.”

Miia Suokonautio, executive director of YWCA Halifax, said her organization took part in the consultations and believes the changes brought forward by the government “signal something quite positive.”

But Suokonautio said the government will have to consider whether it’s enough to provide job protection when there is a lack of income protection.

“What we don’t want … is a protection that only benefits upper middle class white women. We want something that will support Indigenous women, African Nova Scotian women and women with disabilities, all of whom we know earn less than white women in this country.”

The province also moved Thursday to amend the Insurance Act in order to ensure insurance companies can’t deny coverage to people in vulnerable situations.

Finance Minister Karen Casey said the current legislation around homeowners’ policies is unclear about whether or not coverage would be provided if the damage was caused by someone listed on the policy.

“This will make a huge impact for all Nova Scotians, especially women, who are disproportionately affected by domestic violence and or abuse,” said Casey.

She said Nova Scotia was joining British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Quebec in addressing the issue.

Illegal home builders put buyers at risk!

Press Release:

Tarion Warranty Corporation is recognizing Fraud Prevention Month with a strong warning to consumers that an illegally built home in Ontario may come with devastating consequences, including a home that may be unsafe to inhabit or a builder who, once paid, abandons the project altogether.

“When it comes to the largest investment of a family’s life, namely a newly built home, it pays to know that your builder has the technical and financial wherewithal to complete the job and that you have the protection of a warranty if anything goes wrong,” said Howard Bogach, Tarion’s president and CEO. “If builders are not registered with Tarion, they are building illegally and won’t provide warranty protection that is legally required in Ontario.”

Bogach emphasized that every builder in Ontario must be registered with Tarion and must enroll all newly built homes in the warranty program. It’s the law. And almost all municipalities across Ontario are supporting it by sharing their building permit information with Tarion. An additional 15 municipalities have partnered up with Tarion to educate consumers who opt to take out permits in their own names as opposed to using a builder licensed by Tarion.

Illegal builds are more than just a bad idea. They can be expensive for homeowners and builders alike. Last year, for example, Ontario provincial courts set down 117 convictions related to illegal building, and illegal builders paid almost $400,000 in fines for proceeding without proper registration, warranties, or permits. In 2016, one builder even went to jail.

Bogach expects this price tag to increase in 2018 because the fines themselves have increased. Beginning in 2018, builders found in violation of the law will face fines up to $50,000 – up from $25,000 – as well as imprisonment for one year, less a day (twice the previous jail time). Corporations building new homes will face the heaviest penalties with maximum fines of $250,000, up from the previous $100,000. Even directors and officers of these delinquent companies are subject to penalties up to $50,000.

For the homeowner, risks are also high. Unregistered builders do not necessarily comply with Ontario Building Code specifications and the new owner can fall victim to poor craftsmanship, including such dangerous and costly elements as electricity and plumbing. There is also the risk that an illegal builder will take a buyer’s deposit and then abandon the build.

In keeping with its mandate of consumer protection, Tarion advises prospective buyers of new homes to recognize the following signs that a builder may be operating illegally. Builders:

  • Say they built the house for themselves but then decided to sell it.
  • Say they offer their own warranty and the homeowner doesn’t need Tarion’s warranty.
  • Say the Tarion warranty is too costly (sometimes quoting $10k when in fact the maximum cost is $1800 plus taxes.)
  • Offer the consumer a brief contract or, worse, no contract at all.

About Tarion Warranty Corporation

For more than 40 years, Tarion has been enhancing confidence in the new home buying experience. Tarion is a private, not-for-profit corporation that administers the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, and backstops the warranty coverage. We set the standards for builder licensing and after-sales service and step in when your builder cannot or will not fulfill the warranty obligations. Since 1976, Ontario’s new home warranty program has registered close to two million homes and paid put hundreds of thousands of dollars in warranty claims. Our mandate is to serve the public interest, and is what guides us every day.

SOURCE Tarion Warranty Corporation

www.tarion.com

 

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