Payroll News Canada - Employment Articles

November 2020 - 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 Canadian payroll, employment and HR News. Federal and Provincial news items are listed immediately below followed by our Featured Article.

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Tip of the Month

November 2020 - Federal Government Support for Small Business - The Government of Canada endeavours to provide small businesses with relief as they move through the Covid-19 pandemic. Apart from the CEWS, CEBA, CECRA, CERB and RRRF, the federal government offers many other programs and support for small business. Click Here to learn more about these valuable programs and assistance measures.

Looking for past tips? Please visit our Tip of the Month archive for historical tips other useful information that will assist with your payroll and HR tasks.

Canadian Federal Payroll and HR News

October 29, 2020 - It’s time to fix the wage subsidy - Earlier this month Ottawa announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be with us until June 2021. CEWS comes in two parts: help for an employer’s furloughed workers, which is a good idea, and help for its active workers, which is not a very sensible idea at all. In its “new and improved” form, the subsidy for active employees will do very little to help maintain employment, while costing taxpayers billions of dollars. This part of the subsidy should be scrapped. (Full Story)

October 28, 2020 - Canada’s decades old EI system needs review, modernization: commissioner - The representatives for employers and workers in the employment insurance system say they are deeply concerned that a promised review of the program will be lost in the heat of a minority Parliament. The shortcomings in EI, flagged for years by experts, have been exposed by the pandemic, including that not every worker is covered, nor can everyone who is covered get benefits when they need them. (Full Story)

October 28, 2020 - Second wave of unemployment feared - Consumer confidence across Canada is taking a significant turn for the worse amid heightened pandemic restrictions and a spike in COVID-19 cases - worrying economists about a “second wave of unemployment.” Numbers released Tuesday by the Conference Board of Canada suggest consumer sentiment about future finances dropped to its lowest point since April. (Full Story)

October 28, 2020 - Exploitation of migrant care workers has increased since COVID-19 struck, report says - An advocacy group is calling for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants as it releases a report detailing the alleged abuses suffered by hundreds of migrant domestic workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Migrant Rights Network says the pandemic has worsened conditions for care workers, and that racism underpins much of the negative treatment, which includes increasing labour exploitation and unpaid wages. (Full Story)

October 26th 2020 - Green jobs for youth the key to pandemic recovery in Canada - COVID-19 brought the lives of Canadian youth like me to a grinding halt. Schools closed, graduations were cancelled, social events were curtailed and careers were derailed. Unemployment rates for those aged 15 to 24 soared to a historical high of 29.4 per cent in May, up from 10.3 per cent in February. Those who kept their jobs primarily carried out high-contact and low-paid essential work. (Full Story)

October 17, 2020 - Employment Insurance System Added 1.3 Million People After CERB Ended - The employment insurance system absorbed almost 1.3 million people in the last three weeks, new figures show, as a key COVID-19 benefit wound down. A breakdown of applications for the simplified EI program shows that overall there had been more than 1.5 million claims as of late this past week, among them 1.15 million people who were automatically transferred when their emergency benefit ran out. (Full Story)

October 15, 2020 - Where job creation in Canada begins - Canada’s economy has generated millions of new jobs over the last two decades, with the total number of employed people nationwide growing by 4.1 million between 2001 and 2019 (a 27.6 per cent increase). Though growth in employment is unambiguously positive, it is important to examine how job growth has been spread across this large country’s diverse communities and local economies. (Full Story)

October 13, 2020 - September job numbers rise by 378,000 - Canada’s employment numbers rose 378,200 (2.1 per cent) in September, bringing employment to within 720,000 (down 3.7 per cent) of its pre-COVID February level, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey. There were 1.8 million people unemployed in September, down 214,000 (10.5 per cent) from August. (Full Story)

September 30, 2020 - More Canadians eligible for enhanced Employment Insurance - The federal government started transitioning recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the new Employment Insurance program on Sunday. CERB payments will end on Oct. 3. The revamped EI is expected to support 400,000 more Canadians who would have been ineligible under the previous system, according to Employment and Social Development Canada. (Full Story)

September 25, 2020 - Flexible, more accessible EI system to help support Canadians through the next phase of the recovery - Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has put Canadians first, providing the support they need to continue to make ends meet while staying safe and healthy. As we transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Government is continuing to support Canadians through a flexible and more accessible Employment Insurance (EI) program. (Full Story)

September 15, 2020 - Employment services help newcomers adapt to what Canadian employers expect - Though Canada still names immigration as a priority in helping the economy recover from coronavirus, barriers still remain between newcomers and job opportunities. New immigrants entering the job market may be faced with credential recognition issues. Language or cultural barriers may affect newcomers’ confidence or their ability to communicate with their employers and colleagues. They may also face discrimination. (Full Story)

September 14, 2020 - Canada Employment Insurance Commission sets 2021 Employment Insurance Premium Rate and Maximum Insurable Earnings - The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) today set the 2021 Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate at $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and $2.21 for employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, which is unchanged from the 2020 premium rate. (Full Story)

Provincial Payroll and HR News (Choose a province to expand the articles)

October 26, 2020 - Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans - The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping says the province's United Conservative government will also reduce the number of jobs for which employers can apply for temporary foreign workers. (Full Story)

October 26, 2020 - Prioritizing jobs for Albertans - In order to create new businesses and job creators in high-demand industries, Alberta’s government is launching two new immigration pathways to attract investment, create new high-paying jobs for Albertans, diversify the economy and encourage international graduates to launch businesses here in Alberta. These new streams will support Alberta’s recovery by attracting international job creators and skilled professionals to start businesses and get Albertans back to work. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - 41% of B.C. workers ready to leave jobs amid pandemic: survey -  Just as the pandemic is fraying much of the economy, it also appears to be fraying the nerves of British Columbians in the workplace. Survey results from Hays plc reveal nearly half of B.C. workers are tired of their current jobs and wish to move on. The global recruiting firm found 41% of B.C. employees are ready to leave - the fourth largest proportion of workers after Quebec (54%), Ontario (52%) and Alberta (48%). (Full Story)

October 21, 2020 - Alberta revamps rules around layoffs, holiday pay - Many changes are coming for Alberta employers, both in light of COVID-19, but also to make the administrative burden less cumbersome with changes to the employment standards, says an employment lawyer. The 2020 amendments are meant to restore some of that balance between the employer and the employee when it comes to employment standards. (Full Story)

October 21, 2020 - How many employers will give raises in 2021? - More than half (55 per cent) of Canadian companies are back to business as usual while 19 per cent are in growth mode after several months of the coronavirus slowdown, according to a survey by Hays. Previously, one-third (35 per cent) of employers cut staff but, looking ahead, 36 per cent plan to add headcount. Employment optimism is highest in Ontario and Quebec (both 77 per cent), followed by British Columbia (74 per cent) and Alberta (50 per cent). (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - Alberta adds 38,000 jobs in September but unemployment remains relatively unchanged - Alberta gained more than 38,000 jobs in September but continues to lag behind other provinces in the return to pre-pandemic employment levels. Nearly all of the province’s gains last month were full-time work, however the unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged from August at 11.7 per cent, a 0.1 per cent decrease, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released Friday morning. (Full Story)

October 8, 2020 - Skills for Jobs Task Force report received - The Skills for Jobs Task Force explored ways to ensure Albertans have the education, skills and training they need to be successful after graduation and enter the workforce. The report will look at strengthening and improving apprenticeship education and skills development - and better recognize the important role of skilled trades professions. The 21-member task force includes representatives from post-secondary institutions, industry, labour, community agencies, and education leaders in K-12. (Full Story)

October 2, 2020 - Kootnekoff: Changes for B.C.’s worker’s compensation system - In 2002, the provincial government amended the Workers’ Compensation Act to make things more difficult for injured workers to be compensated for their workplace injuries. Earlier this year, B.C.’s Workers Compensation Act was amended. Significantly, the legislation now acknowledges the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT)’s power to interpret the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Full Story)

September 29, 2020 - What's new with Alberta's employment standards? - On July 7, 2020, Alberta introduced Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta Workplaces Act, 2020 and on July 29, Bill 32 became law. Bill 32 implements a number of important changes to both the Employment Standards Code (the code) and the Labour Relations Code, some of which are already in effect. (Full Story)

September 24, 2020 - Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) - In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada created the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. CEWS is a federal wage subsidy program to help employers retain, rehire and/or hire employees during the COVID pandemic. An employer may elect to rehire and pay its laid-off or furloughed employees. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - B.C. construction workers miss job recovery - British Columbia employment grew by nearly 55,000 in September, up 2.3 per cent from a month earlier for the fifth consecutive monthly increase, but construction workers did not share in the uplift, according to Statistics Canada. Construction employment slumped sharply by 6.8 per cent or 14,600 persons from August and was down 17 per cent from pre-pandemic February. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - Pandemic pay finally arrives - Essential workers waiting on Temporary Pandemic Pay from the province have finally received the good news their bank accounts have waited on - more than four months after the initial announcement. In May, about 250,000 eligible frontline workers were promised a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period between March 15 and July 4. (Full Story)

October 22, 2020 - WorkSafeBC announces premium rates for 2021 - WorkSafeBC announces that the average base premium rate for 2021 is 1.55% of employers' assessable payroll, which has been maintained at the same level since 2018. Our strong financial results have enabled us to keep the average rate flat for 2021. Annual base premium rates are driven by injury rates, return-to-work performance and the resulting cost of claims, as well as investment performance relative to required rates of return. (Full Story)

October 22, 2020 - Private care home workers call exclusion from B.C. pandemic pay 'extremely unfair' - Two health-care workers who served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in a private long-term care home say they’ve been unfairly excluded from a temporary wage top-up given to their counterparts in publicly funded facilities. A care aide a nurse who both work at a privately owned and operated care home in Port Coquitlam said they worked 12- to 16-hour shifts to care for the home’s 49 residents in the early weeks of the pandemic. (Full Story)

October 21, 2020 - B.C. 2019 workplace deaths match record high - B.C.’s 2019 workplace death rate matched a record high of 203 set six years ago, with two thirds of those accepted as WorkSafeBC claims at a cost of almost $1.34 billion, a jump of $113 million. The rate dropped in 2015 but has crept back up as the number of injuries increased year over year, the report from B.C.’s workplace health and safety regulator said. (Full Story)

October 20, 2020 - B.C. invites 100 candidates in new PNP draw - British Columbia invited 100 total immigration candidates to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence on October 20. The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) issued a total of 80  invitations through the Express Entry BC (EEBC) and Skills Immigration streams. Candidates were invited under the Skilled Worker and International Graduate subcategories. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - B.C. adds 55k jobs in September as education work materializes - B.C.’s economic recovery took a leap forward in September, adding 54,800 jobs and slashing its unemployment rate by 2.3 percentage points to 8.4%. Those job gains are more than triple the 15,300 positions added a month earlier, according to data released Friday (October 9) from Statistics Canada. Jobs in information, culture and recreation led the way with the addition of 18,500 positions, followed by education services, which added 17,100 jobs. (Full Story)

October 6, 2020 - B.C. frontline workers waiting 'way too long' for pandemic pay: union - More than four months after it was announced, thousands of essential workers in B.C. are still waiting for a promised wage top-up meant to compensate them for working during the first frantic weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the B.C. government said it would pay health-care workers, care aides, prison staff, and other frontline workers an extra $4 an hour for a 16-week period starting in mid-March. (Full Story)

September 19, 2020 - Protecting temporary foreign workers in B.C. - Temporary foreign workers who come to B.C. to work will be better protected now that the employers who want to hire these workers will be required to register with the Province as of Dec. 15, 2020. Employers who wish to hire foreign nationals through three federal programs - the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot or the Home Support Worker Pilot - have until Dec. 15 to register with the provincial government. (Full Story)

October 26, 2020 - Manitoba to amend employment standards for pandemic sick leave, premier says ‘common sense’ needed - Premier Brian Pallister had some stern words for Manitobans who continue to get together groups as his government moves to help more workers take protected leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in the day Monday the provincial government said it would be introducing amendments to the Employment Standards Code that will allow more Manitoba workers to take protected leave due and apply for federal benefits to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Full Story)

October 15, 2020 - Pallister's employment law changes attack workers and reward greedy employers - Premier Brian Pallister is using Bill 16 to stack the deck further in favour of his wealthy donors and attack the rights of working people says Unifor. The bill to amend the Labour Relations Act has been engineered to lengthen strikes and lockouts by removing the alternative dispute resolution mechanism that has helped labour disputes longer than 60 days be resolved by arbitrators. This mechanism has helped Manitoba avoid the lengthy lockouts seen in other jurisdictions, such as the seven-month lockout at the Co-op Refinery in neighbouring Saskatchewan this year. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - Provincial Labour Market Gains 15,100 Jobs In September - The latest economic indicators from Statistics Canada show a strong September in which Manitoba’s employment gained 15,100 jobs compared to August. Manitoba’s labour force, the number of individuals employed or actively seeking employment, climbed by 8,500 people to 701,600, a 1.2 per cent increase and above the 0.8 per cent national average. Total employment is now 0.3 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic level of 699,500 in February. (Full Story)

October 8, 2020 - SAFE Work Manitoba online training helps prepare workers to return to workplace during COVID-19  - SAFE Work Manitoba is promoting a new, interactive online course to help ensure safety in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19: Best Practices for a Safe Workplace course, which complies with provincial health guidelines, helps prepare workers to return to the workplace and learn how to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 in the workplace, keeping themselves, their co-workers and customers safe. (Full Story)

September 14, 2020 - Manitoba Further Expands Back To Work Wage Subsidy Program - The Manitoba government has expanded its Back to Work in Manitoba Wage Subsidy Program as part of its continued commitment to safely restarting the provincial economy. Through the Back to Work initiative, private-sector and non-profit employers can receive up to $100,000 to subsidize 20 employees (up to $5,000 per employee) hired since July 16. (Full Story)

October 13, 2020 - Safety statistics reveal ‘disappointing’ trends on workplace fatalities, injuries - Canadian workplaces are becoming less safe, according to the latest data on occupational health and safety across the country. Released April 27, the 2020 Report on Work Fatality and Injury Rates in Canada indicates 1,027 workers died of work-related causes in 2018, marking an increase of 76 from 2017.  The report is based on data from 2018 - the latest available statistics. Comparable 2019 statistics will not be available until early 2021. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - Some jobless New Brunswickers found work in September, but more now looking for work - New Brunswick added few new jobs in September, one of two Atlantic provinces that didn't see significant gains. The employment rate was relatively close to pre-COVID February level, Statistics Canada reported Friday in its monthly labour force survey. The report shows after seeing big increases in May and June, employment in the province has changed little in July and August. (Full Story)

October 5, 2020 - Atlantic Canadian Employers Lead On Salary Increases In A Historically Bad Year For All - About eight per cent of employers in New Brunswick and nine per cent in Nova Scotia are expecting to freeze salaries next year as businesses and organizations across Canada face significant financial impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from Morneau Shepell. (Full Story)

September 14, 2020 - Public Advisory: Resumption of Consultations on the Workers Compensation System - Public consultations concerning Newfoundland and Labrador’s workers’ compensation system are resuming, following a delay earlier this year due to COVID-19. A statutory review of Newfoundland and Labrador’s workers’ compensation system began earlier this year, with the consultations process open to workers, employers, key stakeholder organizations and the general public. (Full Story)

September 10, 2020 - First Aid Kit Requirements Standardized to Enhance Workplace Safety - The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has adopted new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) first aid kit requirements based on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) guidelines, providing clear provisions for first aid kits for employers to follow. The new guidelines ensure OHS requirements for first aid kits are harmonized among all Canadian jurisdictions for common OHS safety standards and aligned with the National Occupational Health and Safety Reconciliation Agreement. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - Jobs in N.W.T. will come back, but not like before says Finance minister - According to the minister, 90 per cent of jobs will be back by end of the year, but will look different. In a technical briefing on Oct.19, Caroline Wawzonek, minister of Finance told media the number of jobs in the territory is expected to return to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. However, she admitted the quality of the work may suffer. (Full Story)

October 22, 2020 - Yellowknife businesses, still struggling with new normal, make room for workers with disabilities - 'The goal is not to have people just sitting at home,' says Inclusion NWT. The small non-profit, based in Yellowknife, aims to find work and volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities. The organization issued a press release this week thanking a number of businesses who've managed to include an Inclusion NWT client in their workplace - not easy, given physical distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions. (Full Story)

October 19, 2020 - NWT lost 4,000 jobs in pandemic, says finance minister - The Northwest Territories lost approximately 4,000 jobs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its finance minister said on Monday, but she characterized the impact as less severe than expected. The NWT labour force survey, a monthly statistical overview of employment in the territory, indicates there are now 1,000 fewer jobs than in the early spring, before the pandemic’s onset. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - NWT employment rate in September rose to highest level since April, as jobless rate fell - September’s employment rate in the NWT rose to 63.2 per cent, a 0.6 percentage point increase from August and the highest employment rate since April, according to the NWT Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Activity report, released on Friday. The employment rate rose by 200, all in the private sector and in full-time employment. (Full Story)

October 8, 2020 - Hundreds of tourism jobs lost this year, NWT operators say - Approaching a thousand full-time and part-time jobs have been lost this year in the NWT’s tourism sector alone, according to survey data collected by the industry. Tour operators recorded a loss of 443 full-time and 405 part-time positions since Covid-19 closed the territory to visitors in the spring, industry body NWT Tourism said in a report distributed this week. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - Investments to Protect Farm Workers - Many Nova Scotia farmers have made improvements to health and safety to help protect their workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19. They can now apply for funding to help cover some of those costs. A new agreement between the Government of Canada and Nova Scotia will see Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada invest $983,500, for a total of $1,229,375 available funding under the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund. (Full Story)

October 5, 2020 - New Program Creates Jobs for African Nova Scotians - Fifteen African Nova Scotians and people of African descent will be hired at Nova Scotia Works employment services centres across the province to ensure service providers better reflect the communities they serve. It is called the Diversity and Inclusion Program and funding will come from the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Development Agreement; $2.5 million will allow the permanent career practitioner positions to be created. They work one-on one with clients to support access to quality employment and training. (Full Story)

October 1, 2020 - Halifax to require its contractors to pay workers a living wage - It’s the right thing to do, Coun. Lindell Smith told his colleagues Wednesday night ahead of voting on his motion to approve a living wage requirement for most of Halifax Regional Municipality’s contracted workers. The living wage requirement figure is extracted from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report released in September, which determined the current living wage for Halifax is $21.80 per hour. (Full Story)

September 11, 2020 - Easing of Self-Isolation Requirements for Out-of-Province Rotational Workers - Government is easing some self-isolation requirements for out-of-province rotational workers when they return to Nova Scotia. A rotational worker is someone who has a set schedule where they alternate between living in Nova Scotia and working outside the province, such as an Alberta oil worker. (Full Story)

October 2, 2020 - Essential workers entering Nunavut now required to wear masks outside dwellings - Essential workers entering Nunavut who have skipped stays at isolation hubs now have to wear a mask outside their dwelling for the first two weeks they’re in the territory, starting on Oct. 5. People who are in Nunavut who were exempt from isolation have been expected to stay in their dwelling when they’re not at work and to practise physical distancing. They must now also wear a mask outside their dwelling for the first 14 days. (Full Story)

September 29, 2020 - Nunavut MLAs call for temporary jobs program for territory’s youth - Recent high school graduates and students in Nunavut affected by the COVID-19 pandemic could see more work opportunities in the future, after MLAs passed a motion calling on the Government of Nunavut to explore the creation of a temporary employment program. Adam Lightstone, MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak, introduced the motion, saying that short-term, pandemic-related employment issues for students could result in long-term harm to those students, and could create another setback to the government’s aspirations to hire a proportional number of Inuit. (Full Story)

September 16, 2020 - N.W.T. and Nunavut workers' compensation commission proposing new pension system - The way benefits are calculated in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut for people who are permanently injured on the job may be changing. The Northwest Territories and Nunavut Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) is calling for public input into a proposal to do away with lifetime pensions and replace them with a lump sum payment plus a pension to age 65 for lost earnings. (Full Story)

October 29, 2020 - Should Canadian employers consider offering emergency savings plans? - With Canadian employees feeling the toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the economy, should policy-makers facilitate the use of workplace emergency savings plans? Elizabeth Mulholland, chief executive officer of Prosper Canada noted that employees need workplace savings plans now more than ever, with the pandemic acting as a huge wake-up call about Canadians’ general financial vulnerability and, in particular, for those in the low-wage or non-profit sectors. (Full Story)

October 28, 2020 - Feds to begin consultations on temporary worker accommodations - Given the impact on migrant workers during COVID-19 outbreaks across Canada, and admitting more needs to be done, the federal government is set to begin talks on improving their housing and living conditions. The initial discussions, involving representatives from all provinces and territories, employers, workers, advocacy groups and other interested parties, will focus on establishing minimum requirements for employer-provided accommodations for migrant workers. (Full Story)

October 22, 2020 - Ontario moves to protect employers, workers from COVID-related liability claims - The Ontario government is looking to provide liability protection to employers and workers who are making “honest efforts” to follow public health guidelines and laws meant to curb COVID-19 transmission. The Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 will also allow people to take legal action against those who are willfully endangering others. (Full Story)

October 19, 2020 - Study shows less job loss in northeastern Ontario from pandemic - The North Bay area has not felt the economic impacts of COVID-19 quite as bad as the rest of the province, according to a report from the Labour Market Group (LMG). The report indicates that northeastern Ontario experienced less unemployment all while retaining more jobs through the pandemic than the rest of the province. (Full Story)

October 19, 2020 - Changes to wage subsidy catch struggling restaurateurs off guard, advocates say - A change to the federal wage subsidy program has led to confusion among the hardest-hit sectors in Canada, surprising some business owners with added payroll costs that may force major layoffs, industry advocates say. After overhauling the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) this summer, the government granted a grace period during which business owners would get at least as much money as they received under the old system. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - Youth in Ontario struggled to find work in September. And the work they do, just got shut down - Young people are struggling to regain jobs lost to COVID-19 much more than older workers, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, just as the Ford government sharply restricted the industries where they make up larger chunks of the Ontario workforce. As of midnight Saturday, restaurants and bars will no longer be allowed to serve food inside in Toronto and the neighbouring Peel region as well as Ottawa, where most of the province’s recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has occurred, the provincial government said. (Full Story)

October 7, 2020 - Ontario Helping Apprentices Cover Living Expenses during Training - The Ontario government is making the skilled trades more accessible by investing an additional $75 million over the next two years to help apprentices cover living expenses during their in-class training. The government is also appointing a five-member Skilled Trades Panel to provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development on developing a new approach to training and certification. (Full Story)

October 5, 2020 - Ontario requires use of face coverings in workplaces - The use of face coverings is now mandatory in all public indoor settings across Ontario, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces. The new restrictions took effect Oct. 3. Employers in Ontario are also now required to apply a daily COVID-19 screening test to employees and essential visitors before they enter the workplace. One in five (20 per cent) of COVID-19 infections among working-age adults in Ontario can be attributed to workplace transmission, according to a September report from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH). (Full Story)

October 1, 2020 - Ontario Provides $461 Million to Temporarily Enhance Wages For Personal Support Workers - The Ontario government is supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages. This investment will help the province attract and retain the workforce needed to care for patients, clients and residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Full Story)

October 1, 2020 - WSIB holds premium rates for Ontario businesses - The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced today that premium rates for Ontario businesses will be held for another year at the same levels paid in 2020, offering stability as employers grapple with the economic impact of the global pandemic. The announcement comes after four years of significant decreases that cut the average premium rate almost in half. (Full Story)

September 30, 2020 - Ontario Modernizes Social Assistance to Help More People Re-enter the Workforce - The Ontario Government is unveiling plans to build a more responsive, efficient and person-centred social assistance system that will get people back to work and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the first phase of the social assistance recovery and renewal plan, the province will be focusing on improved access to employment and training services, developing new digital tools and modern service options, and ways to process financial assistance faster. (Full Story)

September 23, 2020 - Ontario Set to Employ the Largest Number of Labour Inspectors in Provincial History - The Ontario government is launching a recruitment campaign to increase its team of frontline health and safety inspectors by 98 and help ensure workplaces across the province are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With these new hires, there will be more labour inspectors on the ground than ever before in the province's history. (Full Story)

October 23, 2020 - Workers Compensation Board of PEI holds assessment rates into 2021 - The Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island has announced that 2021 employer assessment rates will be maintained at the 2020 rate levels. The cost associated with maintaining 2020 rates for 2021 will be funded from the Workers Compensation Board’s Fund Balance. This announcement comes following a decade of declining assessment rates, strong investment returns, a focus on injury prevention and return to work efforts and generally, an overall strong funded position and a funding policy that focuses on sustainability and minimizing volatility all the  while offering service and supports to injured workers. (Full Story)

October 7, 2020 - P.E.I. allows 'work isolation' for those who travel outside Atlantic Bubble - Prince Edward Island is now allowing residents who travel outside the Atlantic Bubble to “work isolate” once they return home. This means people can go to work, after a brief self-isolation period, provided they maintain physical distancing from others, wear a non-medical mask, practise hand hygiene, and monitor for symptoms. But workers must first be pre-approved by the government, and consult with their employer. (Full Story)

October 5, 2020 - Island workers can now apply to work-isolate - Effective immediately, Island workers who travel outside of the Atlantic Bubble can apply to work-isolate upon their return to Prince Edward Island if they undergo COVID-19 testing. Non-essential travel outside of the Atlantic provinces is not recommended by Prince Edward Island’s Chief Public Health Office. Anyone travelling to the province from outside of the Atlantic Bubble must self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival. Island residents who must travel outside of the Atlantic Bubble, and need to work outside of their home upon returning to the province, can now apply to work-isolate. All other Islanders returning home from travel outside of the Atlantic Bubble must self-isolate for 14 days. (Full Story)

September 25, 2020 - New funding for Island businesses to support employees working from home - Funding is available for Island businesses and non-profit organizations to help support innovative and smart ways for employees to work efficiently from home.  The Telework Adaptation Fund offers up to $2,500 to eligible businesses and organizations to help ensure their employees have what they need to work from home at least two or three days a week.  The funding can be used for things such as developing a remote work plan, buying office equipment, or subscribing to online business platforms. (Full Story)

October 26, 2020 - Sask. Chamber Looking To Help Small Businesses - The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is looking to help small and medium businesses across the province. Across Saskatchewan, just 1.7 percent of the money allocated by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program has been accessed. As Saskatchewan has 3.11 percent of the national population, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce points out Saskatchewan businesses are leaving roughly $185 million on the table in terms of COVID-19 relief programs. (Full Story)

October 25, 2020 - Employment numbers edging up as pandemic influence eases - Lifting pandemic restrictions has buoyed employment in the Moose Jaw/Swift Current region. Five hundred more people were employed in September than the previous month, according to the monthly Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. The region has 51,600 employed, but there are still 1,000 fewer jobs than in February before the pandemic closed so many businesses. (Full Story)

October 9, 2020 - Unemployment rate drops on both sides of the border - Canada continues to see signs of pandemic recovery as more people return to work and unemployment drops in parts of the country, including Lloydminster. Statistics Canada date shows the Prince Albert and Northern economic region, which takes into account Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan side, had an unemployment rate of 8 per cent, not adjusted for seasonality. It is more than one full percentage point lower than the previous month which was 9.2 per cent. (Full Story)

October 1, 2020 - Minimum wage in Saskatchewan goes up 13 cents Oct. 1, remains lowest in Canada - Despite a basket of goods costing Saskatchewan residents more each year, the province’s minimum wage remains the lowest in the country. On Oct. 1, Saskatchewan’s minimum wage increased by 13 cents to $11.45 per hour, up from $11.32 per hour. In June the provincial government said the minimum wage is calculated using an indexation formula “which gives equal weight to changes to the Consumer Price Index and average hourly wage for Saskatchewan.” (Full Story)

September 21, 2020 - Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclaimed In October - October has been proclaimed Disability Employment Awareness Month by the Government of Saskatchewan.  The month will help raise awareness on the importance of our workforce being inclusive, and ensuring individuals with disabilities are being given the same opportunities as all residents in the province.  The month is a time to celebrate the many and varied contributions of workers with disabilities. (Full Story)

October 5, 2020 - Protecting the health and safety of farm workers during COVID-19 - The Government of Canada will continue to protect the health and safety of all Canadians from COVID-19, including those in the agricultural sector who work hard to provide us with high-quality food. The Emergency On-Farm Support Fund  will provide support to farmers for direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, work stations and any other health and safety measures to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19. (Full Story)

September 17, 2020 - Assessment rates announcement reflects Yukon’s performance in workplace safety and return to work efforts - Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) is announcing industry classifications and assessment rates for 2021. The rates are reflective of safety and return to work efforts within Yukon’s workplaces, along with the strong funded position at the end of 2019. Construction High will experience the largest rate decrease, going down 6.5 per cent, from $5.39 to $5.04. (Full Story)

Get with the program

But ensure software is good fit for organizational needs

The management style of walking around and interacting with staff is somewhat difficult right now with employees spread out both in the office and in personal homes, some leaders are challenged with the old adage, "you can’t manage what you can’t see." This has led to a proliferation of new and revised human resource software programs specifically directed to offering small organizations and businesses a solution to this dilemma. At the same time, in order to be efficient with their numerous human resource requirements, software is simply the way to go.

However, most small businesses also have small and/or tight budgets in spite of a current need to centralize operational workflows and streamline their human resource procedures. Yet, there is no way around it, as there are so many regulatory requirements and HR functional responsibilities that managers need to find a way to simplify things and keep accurate tracking. After all, no one wants to be underpaid, experience errors in their holiday calculations and/or miss out on important benefits.

Payroll software has been in use for years but as organizations and legislation have become more sophisticated, a new crop of products has sprung up that incorporates payroll and many other features. These include core human resource administrative functions such as applicant tracking, orientation and onboarding, employee benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, performance management, compensation, and benefits and regulatory compliance.

These software systems are typically called "Human Resource Information Systems" (HRIS) and with continual iterations, many vendors now also offer self-service so employees can make their own changes to things like address, family constitution, and other things. Also, more complex and sophisticated systems cover all administrative areas but can also facilitate e-learning, talent management as well as workforce and succession planning.

But, there’s the rub! There are so many different HRIS systems with a wide variety of complexity that it is really bewildering for small business owners and small organizations to evaluate these with regard to their needs. Not only that, it must be remembered that employees will need training on these systems. This is not easy and can take extra time and money.

The following suggestions will assist you to navigate through the complex web of decision making regarding the purchase of an HRIS system:

Identify current needs - Determine where management is getting bogged down. Are specific elements of human resource administration falling through the cracks putting some elements significantly behind? Are mistakes becoming too common, causing your employees to become frustrated? Is your management team bogged down with HR functions that could be better managed through an HRIS system? This is especially important because I have seen many clients purchase systems that have modules that are not put into use and don’t match organizational needs.

Identify future needs - Check out your business plan and determine your staffing requirements at three to five years or more. Plan to purchase only what you need now but ensure you have the opportunity to purchase additional modules for future needs and can easily access system upgrades and training when these become available. Keep your eye on growth and employee turnover. There is nothing more frustrating than training someone to work the system and then have them leave your organization.

Systems integration - Take time to re-evaluate your payroll and accounting systems and determine if you can simply extend the systems to include human resource information and if should you purchase an HRIS system that includes a new payroll system. Evaluate the cost implications of each potential solution. No matter what your choice, be sure a preferred system allows for system integration as this will truly add value to your human resource management service.

Investigate training requirements - Be sure to check out the training offered by different vendors and ensure staff being assigned to operate these systems have the right skills. Training needs to be hands-on with real live examples and there should be access to an online resource that can be called upon when a question arises. At the same time, be sure to train more than one person so you are not at risk of losing knowledge if someone leaves the organization.

Levels of independence - A key feature of most HRIS systems is the ability to allow employees to access the system and make changes to their personal information such as address changes. The other feature is to enable managers to access the system to gain information that will assist them to manage their staff. This includes attendance data, previous performance reviews, career growth for their employees as well as any other data required to ensure compliance with all employment-related legislation.

Although the human resource side of an organization is considered the "people" side with the traditional soft skills required, any HRIS system under consideration must be able to accurately collect data and make it available such that management can manage effectively and efficiently.

Another advantage of these data-based systems is that management can identify growing human resource trends impacting the organization and deal with them quickly. Statistics can be compared to competitors or to industry trends while departmental statistics can be used to identify individual employee issues that need to be addressed. As well, it allows for document collection should this be needed to support any disciplinary or termination decisions being made.

Human resource management has changed significantly over the years. Today it is not just about legislation versus employee engagement, it is all about data. Finally, no matter which way we look at technology and its impact on human resources, we need to know these systems will continue to grow, evolve and become more agile, allowing us to continue streamlining systems for efficiency and effectiveness.

Article presented by permission from Barbara J. Bowes, FCPHR, CCP, M.Ed., of the consulting firm Legacy Bowes, is the author of eight books, a radio personality, a speaker, an executive coach and workshop leader. She is also chairwoman of the Manitoba Status of Women.. She can be reached at

Software Updates

eNETEmployer (Current Release)

  • You can now add a logo to your employee pay statements (via the Employer tab's Admin - Tools page). The logo will appear on the Pay Statements (Pressure Seal) report.
  • Renamed the Admin - Tool screen's "Logo" option to "Banner" to better describe the feature's use.
  • Added T4 - Other boxes 57, 58, 59 and 60 for Covid-19 reporting. These options will be available if your payroll year is 2020.
  • Set the default T4 printing to "Print on Background".
  • Improved the body text/description for the email template that is used when you generate employee user accounts. The resulting email makes it easier for employees to understand how to access their user accounts.
  • Adjusted the program to trim the spaces before and after column names during an import. This solved an issue where some clients had import issues due to leading and trailing spaces.
  • Removed the CSB option from the Current Payroll menu as this feature is no longer provided by the CRA.
  • Renamed the Earning Item screen's "Distribution" column to "Distribution Name" in order to match the Speedy Update screen. This will also facilitate easier data import.
  • Sub items now display a light-color (semi-transparent) label when using the filtering options on appropriate screens. This allows you to see the grouped item's name when the main row is collapsed.

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