January 2015

 Health & Safety

Nominations open for Canada’s Safest Employers Awards

The nomination period is now open for the fifth annual Canada’s Safest Employers Awards.

This prestigious award recognizes organizations across the country that demonstrate excellence in occupational health and safety practices.

If your organization is a leader in safety leadership, innovation, training, wellness or employee engagement, consider nominating it for this award.

How open are Canadians about mental health in the workplace?

Four in 10 Canadians wouldn’t tell their boss if they had a mental health problem, a new survey suggests. But the poll results found that if Canadians knew about a colleague’s mental distress, he or she would help.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which revealed the poll results, says that employees are worried about potential stigma from coming forward with mental illness.

 “A significant number of working people have mental health problems, or have taken a disability leave related to mental health,” Dr. Carolyn Dewa, CAMH’s senior scientist, said.

Government of Canada and British Columbia confirm case of H7N9 avian influenza in Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Terry Lake, British Columbia's Minister of Health and Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's Deputy Provincial Health Officer today confirmed that an individual in B.C. has tested positive for the H7N9 avian influenza strain. The individual recently returned to Canada from China. This is the first documented case of H7N9 infection in a human in North America. 

The risk to Canadians of getting sick with H7N9 is very low as evidence suggests that it does not transmit easily from person-to-person.

Quit-smoking drug suspected in 30 suicides in Canada

Champix is suspected of playing a major role in the deaths of 44 patients — 30 of them by suicide — since the popular stop-smoking drug was approved in Canada in 2007, a Vancouver Sun investigation has found.

The Pfizer drug has also been linked to more than 1,300 incidents of suicide attempts or thoughts, depression, and aggression/anger across the country in the past seven years.

Vancouver clinic encourages gay men to donate blood

When Chad Walters was 18 years old, he was asked to leave a blood donation clinic simply because he was a sexually active gay man.

The Vancouver resident decided in that moment to research Health Canada’s deferral of blood donations from homosexual males that started in the 1980s when the tainted blood scandal of HIV and Hepatitis C got into the national blood supply.

Up until 2013, any gay man who had sex with another man since 1977 was disallowed from donating blood. Now, a gay man is able to donate blood as long as he’s abstained from sex with another man in the last five years.

Caregivers under stress, suicide rates also a worry: Canadian mental health report

Canadians are stressed out about having to care for older family members at a time when an aging population means more people will require such care, says a new report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

The report, released Thursday, also found that suicide rates are higher here than in some other G8 nations.

Human Resources

Canadian employers denied temporary foreign workers look to new immigration system

For Amy Huddle, general manager of Sushi Village in Whistler, it was a shock.

“This is the first year in eight years we’ve been denied,” she said.

Like many restaurants in the ski resort, Huddle’s restaurant had come to rely on Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Sushi Village used the program to bring in Japanese sushi chefs.

But after several serious abuses of the program throughout Canada came to light, the government imposed restrictions on the program, especially for restaurants. This year, many Whistler businesses have had to do without temporary foreign workers.

How to use HR to weather big-picture problems facing your business

We all know business is changing too fast for most business owners to keep up. How can your organization stay relevant? Maybe you need to depend more on your Human Resources department.

Tired of being lumped as the complaints-and-compliance department at most businesses, HR leaders have been lobbying for years to be taken seriously as business drivers. Now that may finally be happening. That is because all the big-picture problems affecting business today, from overseas competition to turbulent markets, have the same solution: your people, fully unleashed, engaged and empowered.

78% of employees willing to relocate for dream job

More than three-quarters of employees are willing to relocate in order to pursue their dream job, with one-third even willing to move to the other side of the world.

Almost a quarter of international employees said they would be willing to move to another country, or to another city (23% each), if this connected them to their dream job – however, a similar number also stated they would not be willing to relocate.

2014 in review: Developments in Canadian Labour and Employment Law

In 2014 we saw some significant changes to Canadian labour and employment law.  New judicial decisions and statutes changed longstanding legal principles, and employees and their counsel attempted to use new mechanisms to vindicate their claims. We have selected the following top ten developments from 2014 with which all human resources professionals should be familiar.

Women see progress, but still reluctant to climb the corporate ladder

There’s good news and bad news for women in the workplace. The good news is that the gender divide appears to be narrowing. The bad news is that women still seem reluctant to move up the ranks, regardless, for a variety of reasons.

The Closing Divide

Randstad Canada’s new Women Shaping Business survey, conducted in partnership with Ipsos Reid, found that the salary gap between men and women has shrunk from 78% last year to 65% in 2014. Women also report seeing progress in areas like managing the work-life balance, and making flexible work arrangements. 


Why so much secrecy when it comes to drug approval, Health Canada?

Why has it taken Health Canada more than two years – and counting – to figure out whether or not to approve the abortion pill mifepristone?

Is it because the department has lingering questions about the safety of the drug, also known as RU-486, and needs more information to make an informed decision? Or is it possible that, even though the decision will be made by non-political bureaucrats, there are concerns elsewhere in Ottawa over the election-year consequences of green-lighting a pill that can make it safer and easier for women to terminate pregnancies?

Canada’s fledgling medical marijuana industry hit by series of setbacks

Almost a year after the federal government revamped the way medical marijuana is produced and distributed in Canada — moving from home-based operations to large-scale commercial ones — the fledgling industry continues to encounter growing pains.

A trial is set to begin next month in Federal Court that will hear patients argue that the price of marijuana charged by commercial producers is too high, depriving them of medicine to treat serious ailments. Until a decision is made, individuals who previously held licences to possess and grow their own marijuana have been allowed to continue doing so.

Refugee heath care still violates court decision: advocates

The Conservative government is continuing to violate a Federal Court ruling that affirmed the right of refugee claimants in Canada to access health care services, lawyers are set to argue Tuesday.

The Federal Court hearing in Toronto opens just the latest chapter in the ongoing legal debate over whether those awaiting a decision on their refugee claim ought to have all of their health care costs paid by the Canadian government.

New obesity guidelines fall short, Canadian group says

New national guidelines for doctors say family physicians have a much more active front-line role to play in the battle against obesity.

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care issued the guidelines Monday that focus on doctors playing a more prominent role in preventing and managing adult obesity.

Weighing patients regularly should be standard, says Paula Brauer, chair of the task force’s obesity working group.

Health care sector growth offers opportunity for youth

In a city facing high youth unemployment and the loss of its young workers to places with more potential, health care is bucking the trend.

The sector has grown by 27.4 per cent since 2008 to nearly 1,600 employers, according to a report from Workforce Windsor Essex.

Health care workers have the lowest unemployment rates in the region. These days, many of the new jobs in health care are in engineering, business and information technology.

Health-care unions grapple with bargaining report

The province’s four health-care unions have instructed their legal teams to work together to make the Dorsey report work for everyone.

A news release issued jointly by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union, Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union and Unifor said the decision comes from a meeting on Tuesday “with a goal of getting the best outcomes for the 24,000 health-care member affected” by the Liberal government’s Health Authorities Act.