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April 2014


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• What's New

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Teach your workers well

Tip of the Month:

Filing dates for self-employed individuals

February 2014 - Welcome to the latest edition of The Payroll News. As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates who are interested in keeping up with the latest changes in the Payroll industry. Or better yet, you can subscribe them for free using the Tell Others About Us link.

What's New in Canadian Payroll

Listed here are recent changes in legislation on Federal and Provincial levels that may impact your payroll calculations. Please view the following list for changes that affect your region.


April 25, 2014 - Government of Canada helps new Canadians get jobs faster - Over $2.5 million in funding has been announced for a project to help underemployed newcomers find alternative careers in Canada related to their field of study and education. The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development stressed the importance of helping newcomers put their skills to work sooner. Through this project, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will help close to 300 skilled newcomers choose a career path suited to their skills and experience, while providing employers with a pool of talented workers. (Full Story)

April 2014 - More request options for employers - Employers can now request to transfer a misallocated credit within a payroll program account or from a payroll program account to another program account. They can also request a payment search for a payment that has been made but has not been credited to the account. For more information, visit the CRA website's My Business Account page. (Full Story)

April 17, 2104 - Reduce your employee's tax bill – The CRA offers a reminder to employees and employers that if an individual owes tax at filing time each year, the employer can take steps to reduce the amount owing. They do this by having tax or more tax deducted at source from certain types of income. Employees can request to have tax, or more tax, deducted at source from employment income, pension benefits from an employer-sponsored pension plan, and Old Age Security or Canada Pension Plan benefits. (Full Story)

April 14, 2104 - Statement by the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency on the Heartbleed bug - After learning that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) systems were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, the CRA acted quickly to protect taxpayer information by removing public access to its online services on April 8, 2014. Since then, the CRA worked around the clock to implement a "patch" for the bug, vigorously test all systems to ensure they were safe and secure, before re-launching online services. (Full Story)

April 12, 2014 - Government of Canada takes action to create jobs and address skills shortages in the manufacturing sector - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, today announced that the Government of Canada is partnering with the CME to help internationally trained engineers, technicians and technologists obtain jobs in their fields faster by connecting with Canadian employers facing labour shortages in manufacturing. The CME will also work with internationally trained workers to find alternate careers that match their skills set. (Full Story)

April 7, 2014 - Government of Canada cracks down on abuse of Temporary Foreign Worker Program - Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney announced the Government has publicly listed employers who have had their labour market opinions (LMOs) revoked or suspended. The Government of Canada recently introduced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program allowing the Government to suspend or revoke the LMOs of employers found to be, or suspected to be, non-compliant with program requirements. (Full Story)

March 28, 2013 – CRA recently added forms and publications - In March 2014, the CRA launched a new series of income tax technical publications, called the income tax folios. Over the next several years, the folios will update and replace the interpretation bulletins. For more information, visit the CRA website and go to the Introducing Income Tax Folios and Income Tax Folio Index. The CRA website also provides a list of forms and publications added to their website within the last 30 days. (Full Story)

March 28, 2014 - Government of Canada takes further steps to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs - Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney announced further changes today stemming from the ongoing review of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs. The Government of Canada is introducing legislative amendments to give the Government the authority to levy monetary fines on employers who break the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
(Full Story)

March 12, 2014 - Interest rates for the second calendar quarter - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) today announced the prescribed annual interest rates that will apply to any amounts owed to the CRA and to any amounts the CRA owes to individuals and corporations. These rates remain unchanged from the last quarter and will be in effect from April 1, 2014 to June 30, 2014. The interest rate charged on overdue taxes, Canada Pension Plan contributions, and employment insurance premiums will be 5%. There have been no changes to the prescribed interest rates since last quarter.
(Full Story)


Apr 23, 2014 - Alberta Works Week helps Albertans achieve career goals - Alberta Works Week is teaming up with community partners to showcase how Albertans can find career, job and training information, April 28 to May 2. Over 100 events will be hosted in more than 30 communities in Alberta Works Centres, community halls, schools and other locations. Staff from various government departments will be working side-by-side with community stakeholders and employers supporting events across the province. (Full Story)

April 11, 2014 - Top apprentices, instructors and employers honoured - Sixty-six individuals from across the province, many of whom scored top marks while completing their apprenticeship training programs. These awards show the value and importance of the skilled trades to our province. Recognizing these outstanding accomplishments reinforces the impact apprentices, trades professionals, employers, instructors and members of industry have on developing tomorrow’s skilled trades workforce while enhancing Alberta’s world-class apprenticeship and industry training system. (Full Story)

April 4, 2014 – Alberta WCB Policies & Information Manual Changes - Several changes have been made to the Alberta WCB Policies & Information Manual. This manual contains the current versions of policies approved by the Board of Directors. It also includes the Principles, Statement of Rights, and helpful information such as the Alberta Permanent Clinical Impairment Guide. (Full Story)

March 1, 2014 - Province invites you to talk about the rules at work - Consultations begin today regarding the Employment Standards Code, which sets minimum standards for hours of work, overtime, minimum wage, general holidays, special leaves, rules for employing young workers, termination pay, and more. A discussion guide and survey is available online where Albertans can provide feedback on an initial series of questions and offer comments on any other employment standards topic. (Full Story)

British Columbia:

April 8, 2014 - Five new agreements offer five years of labour stability - BCGEU faculty members at five colleges have reached five-year tentative agreements under the new Economic Stability Mandate, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today. Affecting more than 1,000 faculty members employed at five colleges, five tentative agreements cover a five-year term, from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2019. (Full Story)

March 31, 2014 - Governments of Canada and British Columbia take action to create jobs – Both levels of gonverment have signed several agreements to help connect Canadians with available jobs, including one to implement the Canada Job Grant in British Columbia. The Canada Job Grant is an innovative, employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. It is designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, in all industries and regions. (Full Story)

March 7, 2014 - B.C. celebrates more women in trades this International Women’s Day - International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the many career options available to women today. Doors are opening in every sector of the economy, and the increasing number of women in British Columbia who are launching careers in the skilled trades is a sign of this progress. Since 2009, the percentage of women apprentices in B.C. has risen from 8.5% to 10.3%, with even bigger increases in trades such as welding and heavy equipment operation. (Full Story)


April 15, 2014 - Annual Report Reveals Strong Financial Position: Lower Rates Anticipated - The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) released its 2013 Annual Report today. It was highlighted by stable rates, innovative service enhancements for workers and employers, and a strong financial position generated as a result of positive investment returns and the WCB's continued commitment to its prevention and recovery goals. The WCB also released its 2014–2018 Five Year Plan. (Full Story)

March 28, 2014 - WCB Releases Comprehensive Report on Claim Suppression in Manitoba - The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) has released an in-depth review of workplace injury claim suppression in Manitoba. While acknowledging that claim suppression is difficult to observe, the report suggests overt claim suppression occurs in approximately six per cent of workplace injuries, which represents approximately 1,000 claims per year. The WCB will focus its compliance efforts on instances of overt claim suppression because in these cases workers are threatened or induced not to make a claim, depriving them of the benefits to which they are entitled. (Full Story)

March 21, 2014 - Strengthened Workplace Health And Safety Law Comes Into Force April 1 - New protections will soon be in place to increase the safety and health of new workers, and those in high-risk occupations, along with stronger penalties for employers who are found to put workers’ safety at risk, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun announced today. The new and amended provisions of the act and regulations, which come into effect on April 1, incorporate changes recommended by the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health during the 2012 five-year review of the act. (Full Story)

March 20, 2014 - Budget 2014: Improved Tax Credits, Hiring Incentives To Help Employers Hire More Apprentices - Improved tax credits for hiring apprentices and journeypeople, and a new employer hiring bonus will make it easier for employers to hire apprentices and deliver on-the-job training, Premier Greg Selinger announced today. A new $1,000 bonus has been created for businesses that hire apprentices for the first time and improving apprenticeship tax credits to increase the incentive to hire. This will encourage businesses to train more Manitobans for well-paying jobs in the skilled trades including those being created by Manitoba's record infrastructure investment plan. (Full Story)

March 17, 2014 - Budget 2014: Province Providing New Funding For Career Development, Skills Training In High Schools - The Manitoba government is introducing a new career development grant for schools that will help students develop clear career paths, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced today. "Parents know that nothing opens more doors than a good education, and businesses tell us their future growth depends on training more skilled workers," said Minister Allum. The new $1-million career development fund will give students the tools needed to make informed educational choices and to support related activities. (Full Story)

New Brunswick:

April 17, 2014 - Provincial jobs summit to focus on people, skills and jobs - People, Skills, Jobs: Putting our resources to work is the theme of the provincial jobs summit which will be held in Fredericton on May 12 and 13. The summit will help build on the investments that have been made in the workforce, natural resource sectors, knowledge industries, and in New Brunswick exports to connect people with jobs in their communities. In addition to the jobs summit, the provincial government is supporting job and career fairs in Moncton, Fredericton and Campbellton. (Full Story)

April 14, 2014 - Wages increased for early learning educators - The incomes of early childhood educators with recognized training have been increased again through a change to the provincial government’s wage top-up program. As of April 1, the early childhood educator wage top-up is now 25 cents more per hour bringing it to $5 per hour. The increase affects the salaries of almost 1,700 staff. The increase builds on a previous enhancement through the wage top-up program in April 2013, when the top-up was raised by 25 cents to $4.75 per hour. (Full Story)

April 11, 2014 - Workforce profile shows decrease in size of government - The number of positions in New Brunswick public service has declined by approximately 600, according to a report tabled today in the legislative assembly. The Government of New Brunswick Workforce Profile 2013 provides statistical information about key characteristics of the public service, as of the final day of each year. The 2012 profile reported a reduction of 637 positions compared to 2011. (Full Story)

April 3, 2014 - One-Job Pledge initiative helping Edmundston companies - The One-Job Pledge initiative has helped 94 graduates find employment at 73 businesses in the Edmundston region.The program, announced last year, enables eligible businesses to receive a one-year wage incentive when they hire a recent graduate. As part of its job creation strategy, the provincial government is providing support to businesses from a variety of sectors. These businesses must pay a minimum salary of $14 per hour. The program reimburses 70 per cent of the salary to a maximum of $10 per hour for 52 weeks. (Full Story)

April 2, 2014 - WorkSafeNB’s performance helps keep New Brunswick one of the safest places to work in Canada - 2013 results exceeded targets established by WorkSafeNB’s board of directors, and helped to keep New Brunswick one of the safest places to work in Canada. Detailed results on WorkSafeNB’s performance can be found in its 2013 Annual Report. One of the highlights of the 2013 Annual Report show a 2.84 workplace injury frequency rate per 100 full-time employees (FTE) in 2013. This represents a decrease from 2012 (3.00) and is well below the five-year target of 3.19. (Full Story)

March 19, 2014 - Funding increased for universities, help for students and employers - The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is investing more than $593 million in fiscal 2014-15 in its core mandate of people, skills and jobs. The figures were outlined today as the department's main estimates were presented in the legislative assembly. "Creating good-paying jobs for all New Brunswickers and growing the economy is our government's top priority," said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr. (Full Story)

March 14, 2014 - Provincial, federal governments sign agreement in principle to renew labour market agreements, create Canada Job Grant - The provincial government has signed an agreement in principle with the federal government to renew labour market agreements and create the Canada Job Grant totalling about $66 million. Under the agreement in principle, New Brunswick will receive about $11 million annually over six years for skills training, which is the province’s per-capita share of the $500 million allotted to the national program. Of this, about $4 million may be spent in the province on employer-driven training. (Full Story)

Newfoundland and Labrador:

April 24, 2014 - WHSCC reports workplace injury rates for 2013 - The lost-time incidence rate in Newfoundland and Labrador remained at the historic low of 1.6 per 100 workers in 2013, the same as 2012. The rate had been decreasing steadily for 13 years, and has improved dramatically from its high of 5.2 per 100 workers in 1989. For 2013, 92.1 per cent of employers in the province are injury-free, up from 91.8 per cent in 2012. These improvements are significant given that annual average employment in the province is rising. (Full Story)

March 20, 2014 - Department Re-organization Focused on Meeting Labour Market Demand - The Provincial Government announced today that it is moving forward with a reorganization of the Department of Advanced Education and Skills. The reorganization will make the department more responsive to the changing demands of today’s growing labour market and will occur without any job losses. Over the next year, the department will transform from six branches into five and include Workforce Development and Immigration, Post-Secondary Education, Community and Social Development, Regional Service Delivery, and Corporate Services. (Full Story)

March 13, 2014 - Changes Announced to Summer Employment Programs for Students - The Provincial Government today announced improvements to summer student employment programs which streamline the application process and provide an earlier application deadline for employers to hire post-secondary and high school students. The application deadline of April 4, 2014, will result in earlier notification for employers and timely recruiting and hiring of post-secondary and high school students. All positions will be posted on the provincial job site: (Full Story)

Northwest Territories:

April 28, 2014 - GNWT recognized as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People - The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is proud to confirm it has been selected as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for 2014. The award, an annual recognition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, recognizes Canadian employers that are leaders in attracting and retaining younger employees by offering great employment environments for younger workers. The competition reviews a wide variety of initiatives, from mentorship to training and advancement opportunities, important to younger Canadians. (Full Story)

February 28, 2014 - Agreement to provide business, employment and training opportunities for residents of Fort Resolution - A forest management agreement (FMA), signed today will provide business, employment and training opportunities in the forest industry for residents of Fort Resolution. The FMA provides Timberworks with tenure for enough timber volume and access to create a viable forest industry for the community of Fort Resolution. (Full Story)

Nova Scotia:

April 24, 2014 - More Career-Related Co-op Jobs for Students - More Nova Scotia students will gain career-related job experience because government has expanded the number of co-op placements available across the province. One-hundred additional positions have been added for a total of 425 this year. Job listings are now available at campus co-op offices. Government invested $500,000 more in the Strategic Co-operative Education Incentive program, for a total of $2.3 million. (Full Story)

April 17, 2014 - Workplace injuries continue to decline in Nova Scotia - Nova Scotians made significant progress in 2013 toward reducing the impact of workplace injury in our province. In its 2013 Annual Report released today, the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) reports that the province’s workplace injury rate dropped to 1.86, the lowest since WCB first began tracking this measure. The reduction in workplace injuries is a result of increased collaboration among safety partners in Nova Scotia, including government, safety associations, industry groups, employers and workers. (Full Story)

April 10, 2014 - Amendments Benefit Employers, Apprentices - Legislative changes introduced today, April 10, will increase employer involvement in apprenticeship, and make it easier for apprentices to complete their training and get jobs in Nova Scotia. Amendments to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and the Community Colleges Act will lay the groundwork to establish an industry-led apprenticeship agency, make it easier for apprentices to have out-of-province experience recognized, and ensure apprentices are getting the training they need. (Full Story)

March 31, 2014 - Bill Protects Health, Safety, Right to Strike - The province introduced a bill today, March 31, to guarantee essential care for Nova Scotians during a strike or lockout affecting health care, homes for seniors, youth, or people with special needs. The Essential Health and Community Services Act requires unions and employers to have an essential services agreement in place before job action is taken. If they cannot reach an agreement, an independent third party decides. (Full Story)

March 27, 2014 - Amendments Make it Easier for Professionals to Work in Nova Scotia -
Government is making it easier for professionals to work in the province. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan introduced amendments to the Fair Registration Practices Act today, March 27. Changes to the act will ensure people who have trained outside the province receive a fair review of their qualifications, and make it clear that regulatory bodies overseeing professions are subject to the legislation and annual reporting.
(Full Story)

February 28, 2014 - Province, Feds Continue Canada Job Grant Talks - The province has secured an agreement with the federal government to ensure that Nova Scotia's concerns with the Canada Job Grant are addressed. Premier Stephen McNeil spoke with federal Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney earlier today, Feb. 28. The current Canada Job Grant program requires employers to contribute funding upfront. Many businesses in the province have said they will not be able to participate under this arrangement. (Full Story)


April 28, 2014 - Creating Jobs for Today and for Tomorrow - Ontario to Introduce New $2.5-billion Jobs Fund to Help Grow the Economy – Several new initiatives were unveiled today which will help grow Ontario's economy, foster competitiveness and innovation and create jobs. The government plans to introduce a new 10-year, $2.5-billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund as part of its comprehensive plan for creating jobs and growing the economy. (Full Story)

April 27, 2014 - Growing the Economy and Helping to Create Jobs - Ontario is making significant progress in growing the economy and helping to create jobs for today and for tomorrow. The province released its Jobs & Economy Progress Report that will help to create a competitive climate for business, supporting a skilled and healthy workforce and building modern infrastructure. Last year, Ontario created 95,700 new jobs — that is nearly 43 per cent of all new jobs across Canada in 2013. (Full Story)

April 25, 2014 - Ontario Partners With OpenText to Help Create Jobs - Ontario is partnering with technology leader OpenText, a made-in-Ontario success story, to support the company's expansion and create as many as 1,200 jobs. Waterloo-based OpenText will carry out its key research and development work on cloud computing in Ontario. OpenText will invest up to $2 billion in its Ontario operations, supported by a provincial grant of up to $120 million. (Full Story)

April 22, 2014 - Supporting Discoveries and Creating Jobs in Ontario - Ontario is investing in innovative research, encouraging economic growth and supporting job creation.A total of 3,700 researchers will directly benefit from the government's investment of almost $14 million in the Early Researcher Awards program and over $45 million in the Ontario Research Fund - Research Infrastructure program. Ontario has helped fund the work of over 12,300 highly qualified people through the Early Researcher Awards program. (Full Story)

April 17, 2014 - Youth Employment Fund Creates More Than 10,000 Jobs - Ontario's Youth Employment Fund has helped more than 10,000 young people find jobs, get training, and gain valuable work experience. Launched in September 2013, the fund is helping employers offer four- to six-month job placements for young people looking for work, particularly those facing multiple barriers to employment. With 10,706 jobs created to date, the fund is well on its way to meeting its two-year target to provide 25,000 job opportunities for Ontario youth aged 15 to 29. More than 5,000 employers across the province have received support through the fund to provide youth with employment opportunities. (Full Story)

April 11, 2014 - Shedding Light on Summer Job Opportunities - Ontario is helping over 100,000 students find jobs and launch their own businesses this summer so they can build the skills they need to succeed. This year, students can visit to access an easy-to-use assessment tool that can help them; find a job through Employment Ontario partners; strengthen their resumé writing skill; apply for funding to start their own summer companies. Ontario is also once again offering employers a $2-per-hour hiring incentive for summer students. Ontario is investing more than $78 million in 2014 to connect young workers to jobs or launch their own summer businesses. (Full Story)

April 4, 2014 - Ontario Enhancing Job-Skills Programs for First Nations Communities - Ontario is investing in training programs that will support jobs and improve the quality of life for First Nations communities near the Ring of Fire. Ontario announced a new investment of $565,000 to support more skills and training opportunities through Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services (KKETS). The investment is in addition to $2.7 million Ontario has already provided KKETS for this training program. (Full Story)

April 4, 2014 - Ontario Gains 13,400 Jobs in March - Ontario gained 13,400 net new jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 7.3 per cent. Ontario's youth (ages 15-24) employment also increased in March by 15,700 net new jobs. Ontario's job market grew by 95,700 net jobs in 2013. The province has recovered all the jobs lost during the global recession plus 2.9 per cent more, for a total of 459,500 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession in June 2009. Ontario's economic recovery continues to outpace the United States and the Great Lakes States. (Full Story)

Prince Edward Island:

April 11, 2014 - Minimum wage to be increased - The minimum wage in Prince Edward Island will be increased to $10.20 cents an hour as of June 1 and to $10.35 an hour as of October 1. The current minimum wage is $10 an hour. It has been in effect since April 1 of 2012. The new rates are in line with those of the other Atlantic provinces. The current rate in New Brunswick is $10 an hour, it is $10.40 in Nova Scotia for experienced workers and $9.90 for those lacking experience, and the rate in Newfoundland and Labrador will increase to $10.25 on October 1. (Full Story)

March 5, 2014 - PEI Joins Ontario on Pension Reform - PEI is teaming up with Ontario to help develop a viable, responsible plan to improve retirement income security so people can retire more comfortably. Ontario has been moving forward with its plan to strengthen retirement income security for workers and families across the province. The Technical Advisory Group on Retirement Security will explore the most effective alternatives to a CPP enhancement. (Full Story)


April 22, 2014 - Saskjobs Website Traffic Reaches An All-Time High For March - Visits to hit an all-time high for the month of March, reaching upwards of 1.2 million, an increase of 9.1 per cent year-over-year. The growing interest in Saskatchewan’s go-to job website is a reflection of the province’s strong labour market and growing economy. Of the 15,644 jobs that were posted to the site in March, the most in-demand occupations were those in trades, transport and equipment operation at 31.6 per cent, and sales and service occupations at 33.2 per cent. (Full Story)

April 22, 2014 - WCB Reports on 2013 Results - The WCB’s 2013 Annual Report has been tabled in the provincial legislature and last year's results were were positive for injured workers and employers and for the WCB’s finances. Financial statements show a balance of just over $521 million in the Injury Fund at the end of 2013. Financial reporting standards require the WCB to report unrealized gains in investments in its Injury Fund. When the unrealized gains are removed, the Injury Fund ended the year at $209.9 million, over $38 million more than in 2012. (Full Story)

April 4, 2014 - Unemployment Remains The Lowest In Canada - Saskatchewan continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for the 15th consecutive month. At 4.5 per cent (seasonally adjusted), the Saskatchewan rate was well below the national average of 6.9 per cent. Employment reached a record high for the month of March with 522,000 people employed, and full-time employment a record high of 445,700. For 14 consecutive months, off-reserve Aboriginal employment has increased year-over-year, with 800 more people employed (1.9 per cent) in March 2014. (Full Story)

March 31, 2014 - Minimum Wage To Increase October 1, 2014 - The Government of Saskatchewan will increase the province's minimum wage from $10 to $10.20 per hour effective October 1, 2014 and will soon introduce regulations to provide for regular indexing of the minimum wage each year. Since 2007, the minimum wage has increased in Saskatchewan six times and has gone from $7.95 to $10.20. (Full Story)

March 31, 2014 - Average Weekly Wages Increase - Average weekly earnings in the province were $953.92 in January of 2014, the third highest among the provinces according to a report released by Statistics Canada today. Nationally, the average earnings were $924.77. There was a 3.5 per cent increase in wages in January 2014 compared with last January. On a national basis, wages were up 3.0 per cent. (Full Story)

March 25, 2014 - Saskjobs Website Traffic Increases In February - As Saskatchewan’s job market continues to grow, so too does the traffic to the province’s number one job site, Last month website traffic reached over a million, marking a 5.2 per cent year-over-year increase, another indicator of the prosperity seen in our province. In February, 13,690 job postings were advertised on SaskJobs from across 339 communities, marking a slight increase from January. (Full Story)

March 7, 2014 - Great Job Numbers For February - The Saskatchewan labour market continues to perform, hitting record levels for the month of February. There were 551,600 people employed in the province in February, up 5,400 from last year (1.0 per cent) the second highest growth rate in the country. Full time employment was up 8,100 from last year. Saskatchewan had the lowest seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in Canada in February at 3.9 per cent, well below the 7.0 per cent reported nationally. (Full Story)

GrandMaster Update

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Teach your workers well
Don't ignore the skills shortage

Canadian employers have been sounding the alarm about skills shortages for some time. The gaps span across industry sectors and affect every province. A recent report estimated one in 10 jobs will go unfilled by 2020. The other challenge is that 10 per cent of the worker supply is predicted to consist of "low-skilled" workers who are not ready for the jobs that will be created.

Governments, both provincial and federal, continue to scramble to create programs and put new investments in place to help alleviate the situation. At the same time, the situation is being studied across the world and creative alternatives such as a global mobility strategy are being proposed. With respect to mobility, a recent guest commentator in a national human resource journal commented that steps should be taken to improve the mobility of all Canadians so they can work and practise their profession wherever they wish to.

I believe the individual was referring to the credential challenges some professionals and trades people experience when attempting to work in another province. I agree barriers such as equivalency of credentials prevent worker mobility. However, I also believe the issue is linked much more closely to personal motivators that is realized. In my experience, it's an individual's need for geographic stability and security that drives the initiative to move or stay put.

I've found that individuals motivated by geographic identification and stability are deeply rooted in their community. They do not want to move for a new job. They have family and supports in the community and their friends are close to home.
Geography is such as a strong factor in job selection I've seen a candidate refused to accept a more senior position because it required driving from one side of our city to another. If you don't believe me, conduct your own little survey. Ask friends and family if they would move to another city, province or country. You'll be surprised at the number of negative responses.

Governments and corporations can put all the mobility policies and incentives in place that they want, but the number of individuals who will move to a new job in another province will not be sufficient to solve our skills shortage.
What can we do to change the situation? There's no easy solution, however, I believe organizations can take more responsibility for mitigating skills shortages. I would like to see much more of an emphasis on internal training and development. Employee training and internal mobility initiatives can overcome skill shortages and also increase employee engagement and retention.

Research shows internal mobility strategies are effective in leveraging an employee base and reducing recruitment and orientation time, and costs. Mobility initiatives provide career opportunities and help to ensure leadership roles are full. It's amazing how many individuals can be underemployed in an organization. Their skills will come to light when they are given different opportunities. As well, productivity increases and the loss of competitive intelligence is reduced.

Studies on training and development demonstrate the cost effectiveness and efficiency of internal programming. A recent study on a British retail bank showed thousands of dollars of savings were achieved by developing and implementing a new leadership training program.

The bank's four-month modular program combined theory with practical knowledge. Candidates were nominated and screened. Program quality and regular reviews were conducted. The return on investment far exceeded the financial expectations and the learner engagement. Personal performance, productivity and engagement increased significantly and many workers were quickly promoted. There was an increase in leadership capability as workers were willing to take on more demanding roles.

Despite research that internal training has such value, I have been disheartened to hear from at least three small business leaders who said they have no training budget. I was told their choice is between training employees and "keeping the lights on." This is a sad state of affairs. Ideally, two per cent of an organizational budget should be dedicated to training.

What will these organizations do when their baby boomer employees retire? What will they do when productivity declines to such an extent that customer service and profitability suffer?

As I've written many times, training employees is not just a perk, it's a critical investment that needs in-depth planning to ensure the right skills are being developed. While there are many different success strategies for both employee mobility as well as training and development, the following five at a minimum should be considered.

Determine skill commonalities -- Determine skill commonalities between jobs and prepare to cross-train employees so they transition between several jobs. This creates opportunities for employees to learn new skills and talents, while at the same time, providing an organization with overall employment flexibility.

Apply a career-progression strategy -- Employees are more committed to an employer that offers a future. Take steps to provide a career-management program to help individuals identify their skills, motivators, needs and wants and then help them to match their personal goals with corporate goals.

Create integrated training programs -- Design and develop customized training programs that use a variety of learning methodologies and real-life studies. Incorporate internal apprenticeships in different departments, create full-time or part-time temporary assignments, encourage participation in special projects, and/or learning opportunities on cross-functional teams.

Train internal trainers -- Internal trainers have practical knowledge and can also act as mentors. Being an internal trainer itself is a developmental opportunity. It is another way to increase personal and professional self-esteem while providing overall training consistency.

Train managers to be coaches -- This is a cost-effective means to institute employee mentoring and should be part of the performance management process. Managers need to know how to have effective conversations with employees so they can boost employee competencies, personal engagement and retention.
Skills shortages are a tough challenge. Yet, I believe waiting for government assistance is not the answer. Instead, leaders must look at employee training and mobility strategies as investment opportunities.

Source: A Look at the Growing Skills Gap and importance of employee mobility, guest commentator, Stephen Cryne, HR Reporter, March 10, 2014; Effective Talent Management Scheme Cuts Recruitment Costs, 2014 Trend Report, Impact International.

This article courtesy of Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP, M.Ed., President of Legacy Bowes Group and Career partners International, Manitoba. She can be reached at