Job Quality On The Decline, But Unions Offer A Way Up

As we head into 2017, a new report has found that the quality of employment in Canada is falling.

Although headlines recently have focused on the impact precarious employment is having on young people, this study shows that all age groups are affected by the quality of work in our country.

The report found that the loss in job quality has been stead over the past 10 years and the share of workers who are paid below the average wage has risen over the years to just under 61 per cent in 2015.

It also found that the gap in wages is still growing. Although the minimum wage is rising to help the poorest workers, it is the gap between middle and high-income people that is growing.

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So what exactly does a ‘low quality’ job mean?

CIBC economist Benjmin Tai explained to CBC news that it means more people are working part time, are self employed and are in low wage jobs.

He pointed out that jobs with above average pay will continue to have a good wage, that is not where new jobs are being created.

And this affects people of all ages.

Tai found that young people and Canadians over 55 are stuck in the low-wage job sector. Even among workers aged 25 to 54, over half had jobs that paid between 50 and 100 per cent of the average wage.

Download Our Guide On How To Protect Yourself In This Economy

Being a union member greatly increases the quality of your job in a number of ways including wage, benefits and safety.

Union members earn more across the board with members on average earning $5.28 more per hour. It also helps with gender parity with women earning 35 per cent more when they are with a union. You workers earn 27 per cent more.

A collective agreement makes sure you have job security, fair hours and benefits. Being a member improves your quality of life both inside and outside of the workplace.


Teamsters Praise Approval of Enbridge Line 3 Replacement

Please click the link below to view the positive responses, in English and French, from Prime Minister Trudeau's announcement, made November 29, 2016, regarding the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement.




Hoffa-Hall Re-Elected to Five Year Term to Lead Union

After a very close election, Jim Hoffa and Ken Hall were voted in to a new 5 year term to lead the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Please click the link below to view the letter and view all the Candidates that were also voted in.


Thank You Letter From Didsbury Alberta

Please click the link below to view the letter from the 24th Annual Didsbury Show and Shine that took place May 7, 2016 with proceeds going to help out those affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire.



Alberta Will Officially Increase Minimum Wage To $15

It has been one of the hottest topics since the NDP won the last provincial election in Alberta, and now it is official and on the books.

Labour Minister Christina Gray announced this week that Alberta would officially raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Oct.1, 2018.

On Oct. 1 of this year, it will rise by $1 to $12.20 an hour and then to $13.60 next year and finally reaching $15 an hour the following year.

That means that as of this October Alberta will have the highest minimum wage of all provinces, although the territories minimum wage remains higher.

The wage will also rise for those in the service industry who have traditionally been paid less than the minimum wage, the reasoning being that they also make tips.

As of this Oct.1 the gap will be removed and servers will make the same minimum wage.

Business groups and opposition critics have been criticizing the plan since it was proposed during the election, saying that these increases are coming much too fast and will hurt businesses already suffering in this economy.

Ric McIver, leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the province, was disappointed with the decision

“The biggest group they’re going to hurt is low-income and poor Albertans, because there will be thousands of hours of work eliminated that would have otherwise been available,” he said. “Today is a very sad commentary on the state of our government.”

Craig Alexander, senior vice-president and chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada, He said in an interview with Global News that when the minimum wage remains around half or less of the average wage, the impact on employment is limited and the average wage in Alberta in August was nearly $30.

Frances Woolley, professor of Economics at Carleton University pointed out that phasing it in will help business plan for increase labour costs.

“From a labour market aggregate point of view as a whole, I don’t think that the negative impacts are going to be very significant," he pointed out.

According to a report by Public Interest Alberta, nearly one in five Alberta workers earns $15 per hour or less.

And it isn’t just teens getting their first job.

The study showed that 77 per cent of low wage earners are age 20 or older, more than 22 per cent of low-wage workers are 45 or older and 60 per cent of low-wage Alberta workers are women.

Whether you agree with the increase or not, the fact is, it is now officially coming.

Trudeau Reiterates Commitment to Labour as MP's Prepare to Return to Parliament

Summer is almost over and that means a lot of things – vacations are ending, days are getting shorter and parliament will be back in session.

This past week Liberal MPs gathered together prepare for a year of coming through on their election promises. Part of that was to reiterate the message that ‘the last federal election marked a new era in labour relations with the federal government.’

"The labour movement has been essential to building a stronger economy, one that's centered on the principles of fairness and inclusion," said Trudeau. "You hold employers to account, and that includes my government. You fight for the interests of the middle class, and you demonstrate a sense of community in everything you do."

Some of the promises made by the liberals during the election when it comes to labour is more flexible parental benefits, helping veterans re-enter the workforce, protecting middle class growth, better employment insurance, skills training and infrastructure investment, youth employment strategies, and of course, repealing anti-union bills.

Meeting with the Canadian Labour Congress last November, Trudeau said he would ‘fulfill the Liberal promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.’

Bill C-377 is the amendment to the Income Tax Act, targets labour organizations with the intention of creating ‘more transparency’, while critics argued it is unconstitutional and violates the rights and privacy of all Canadians.

Bill C-525  would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

It also changes decertification of a union and would be changed to where a minority could initiate a decertification vote.

As we roll into September and our voted representatives start to make decisions that affect all Canadians, union members from across Canada will be keeping a close eye on how this session unfolds.

Alberta Budget 2016: Highlights For The Labour Force

They say the third time is a charm and that is what many Albertan’s were hoping the third budget that has come in just over a year in the province would be positive. For Budget 2016, the province’s projected expenses are $51.1 billion, with a projected total revenue of $41.4 billion. When you add it all up there will be a deficit of around $10.4 billion.

They took the price of oil into account with the current oil prices estimated to be $42 a barrel, but also planned for the potential of oil dropping as low as $36.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci, who announced the plan, said he expects the province will have a balanced budget in just under 10 years, by 2024.

New Workers

There is some good news for those starting to enter the workforce in Alberta. The government has dedicated $15 million to help apprentices complete training and work experience requirements. There is also $10 million to train Albertan’s who are under-represented in the overall workforce such as women and indigenous people.

Alberta Jobs Plan

The economy has been hit hard with unemployment in Alberta rising to 7.9 percent this year and it is predicted that there will be a decrease in jobs for 2016. The province expects that its employment incentive efforts will create about 100,000 jobs over the next three years. The budget includes a $250 million, two-year job package that will include $165 million for two new tax credits for small and medium-sized companies, $25 million in investment through the Alberta Enterprise Corporation and $35 million spent to attract new business. They also released details of the $34 billion infrastructure plan introduced last year.

The Pay Gap Between CEOs And The Average Worker Continues To Grow

Last week the top earning CEOs in Canada were announced and the numbers were pretty shocking for the average working Canadian.

According to the annual report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s highest-paid CEOs will have earned the average workers salary of around $48,000 by lunch on a Monday.

They took home an average of $8.96 million, 184 times the pay of an average working Canadian, per year.

But according to a world-renowned industrial organizational psychologist Edwin Locke, the reason people are angry about these findings is motivated by only one thing – envy.

He explained in an interview with CBC news that the ratio is subjective and simply based on emotion, adding that a good CEO is ‘worth his weight in gold.’

The author the of the report Hugh Mackenzie pointed out in the same article that the large difference is due to a market that is ‘out of control’ and ‘dysfunctional.’

A report by Bloomberg found that the difference between what CEOs get paid as compared to the lowest employees in their company has increased by 1,000 per cent since 1950 – a staggering number.

Mackenzie described the growth as a 'visible manifestation of growing income inequality in Canada, adding that it is not sustainable.

"I just don't think it's sustainable. I think that sooner or later public concern about income inequality is going to start to matter politically and something will have to happen," he said in the interview.

 The current system of compensation is driven by boards of directors who are often a CEO themselves, according to Mackenzie.

 "There's an element of circularity to the system that I think just tends to keep salaries up regardless of what's happening to the performance of the company or the state of the economy," he said.

And the same type of compensation for the average worker has not been rising at the same rate.

According to the Toronto Star, compensation was up 22 per cent in 2014 since the survey first started in 2008, and the salary for the average Canadian rose by only 11 per cent.

Also troubling was how much the gender pay gap still exists in Canada – for average Canadian workers and CEOs, with the average CEO in the top 100 making 237 times the pay of an average woman.

The growing inequality between Canada’s ultra rich and the average working Canadian is rising, and Canadians are taking notice.

Top 5 Earning CEOs in Canada:  

1.  John Chen – BlackBerry Ltd.  

Base Salary: $341,452

Total Compensation: $89.7 million

2. Donald Walker – Magna International Inc.

Base Salary: $358,924

Total Compensation: $23.4 million

3. Gerald Schwartz – Onex Corp.

Base Salary: $1.4 million

Total Compensation: $21.1 million

4. Hunter Harrison – Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

Base Salary: $2.4 million

Total Compensation: $17.6 million

5. Mark Thierer – Catamaran Corp

Base Salary: $1.3 million

Total Compensation: $16.3 million

A Call For More Mental Health Support As Alberta's Suicide Rate Rises

Mental health issues in Canada have long been ignored, but recent statistics coming out of Alberta are showing why we must do much more to address mental health and the stigma associated with it.

According to the chief medical examiner's office, 30 per cent more Albertans took their lives in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

Approximately 500 people die by suicide each year in Alberta, but due to this staggering increase the province is on pace to have more than 650 suicides this year.

David Kirby is a counsellor with the Calgary Distress Centre and said in an interview with CBC News that in this year of mass layoffs, calls to the Centre have ‘changed tone and have become more frequent.’ The demand for counselling services has also increased by 80 per cent.

"For me it says something really about the horrible human impact of what's happening in the economy with the recession and the real felt effect, the real suffering and the real struggle that people are experiencing," he said.

Many people in contract positions, or who were in positions of precarious work were the first to be let go.

However, Dave Grauwiler, who is with the Canadian Mental Health Association's Alberta division, said it is too early to link the increase in suicides to the job losses in the province. He pointed out that it typically takes a couple of years in a recession for those numbers to go up.

"I think that stigma is still an issue around all mental illness," he said. "However, we do see some pretty encouraging signs that the conversation is changing, that people are more willing to talk about their own experience of mental illness, that there are more opportunities for people to get help in our communities than there ever has been."

If someone is facing mental health issues, or knows someone who is, and wants more information about support they should get in contact with their EAP or they can call 211 in Alberta, a number that is there to help individuals find the right community and social services.

Whatever the cause is, it is clear Alberta is facing a major mental health crisis and more must be done.

Canadians and advocacy groups have been calling for more to be done about mental health and the stigma associated with it all across Canada, and especially in the workplace.

Mental Health issues cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion each year and both Teamsters Canada and Teamsters Local 362 have created ‘Make It Mandatory’ mental health campaigns to make mental health resources mandatory in every workplace across Canada.

Canadians must work together to end the stigma and let people suffering know that they are not alone.

Trudeau Reinforces Commitment to Repeal Anti-Union Bills

 A commitment to repeal anti-union bills by the new Prime Minister, was reinforced last week.

Not only were labour unions happy about the announcement, but so were other social activist groups and citizens across Canada who were concerned about threats to rights and freedoms of all Canadians.

Last week Justin Trudeau spoke at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) gathering in Ottawa. According to the Globe and Mail it was ‘the first time a sitting prime minister has addressed the country’s biggest labour body in more than 50 years.’

This past year, bills that had a direct affect on labour made headlines across the country. Bill C-525 and Bill C – 377 not only caused critics to question what effects they would have on labour unions, but Canadian's human rights in general.

During his election campaign, Trudeau promised to repeal the anti-union bills if he won.

His appearance at the CLC gathering, offered a perfect opportunity to see where Trudeau stood on the issues.

Trudeau was greeted with a large applause when he said he would ‘fufill the Liberal promise to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525 — the former Conservative government’s anti-union legislation.’

“Labour is not a problem, but a solution,” said Trudeau.

Bill C-377 received royal assent on June 30 after years of debate. The amendment to the Income Tax Act, targets labour organizations with the intention of creating ‘more transparency’, while critics argued it is unconstitutional and violates the rights and privacy of all Canadians.

The bill requires ‘unions, labour trusts and employee associations to disclose any transaction of more than $5,000, along with the names of the payer and payee, to the Canada Revenue Agency.’ Also included in the bill is that unions would have to disclose ‘any executive or officer who earns more than $100,000.’

Critics said that it was unconstitutional, not needed and costly and burdensome.

A main reason it is not needed is that many unions already share their financial statements with their members. Teamsters review their financial statements at regularly scheduled meetings, making the process transparent and open.

The bill is also unconstitutional in that  it would breach privacy laws concerning individual members, regarding information related to their health care and pension.

Bill C-525  would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.

The Bill also changes decertification of a union and would be changed to where a minority could initiate a decertification vote.

Now that Trudeau has renewed a commitment to repeal the bills, labour groups will definitely be keeping a close eye on how he moves forward.