The Alberta government will limit the number and types of jobs available to new temporary foreign workers — a move it says will free up jobs for Albertans who are looking for work. Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping says the plan will make more than 1,350 jobs available to unemployed Albertans. "We've reached an agreement with the federal government to refuse more than 800 labour market impact assessment applications," he announced Monday via teleconference. "Positions that would have been filled by temporary foreign workers will instead be open to people in the province." The new policy will affect 475 occupations in sectors such as accommodation and food services, retail trade, transportation, construction and professional, scientific and technical services. It will not affect employers recruiting for specific jobs in the agriculture, technology and caregiving sectors that are especially dependent on temporary foreign workers to fill positions. The government will begin limiting applications on Nov. 1. Copping also announced that the province is creating two new immigration streams to promote job-creating entrepreneurship and tech startup ventures. Beginning Monday, recent international graduates from Alberta's universities and colleges will be able to apply under the new International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream to launch business ventures and startups in Alberta. And in January, the province will launch the Foreign Graduate Start-up Visa Stream, which is meant to lure "talented international graduates from top U.S. universities and colleges to start businesses and settle in Alberta communities." "These actions will help strengthen our economy and let us take advantage of untapped talent by making it easier for international graduates to put their ideas to work here in Alberta," Copping said.
The majority of COVID-19-related claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) from workers in Ottawa involve employees in long-term care facilities and retirement homes, but a union that represents many of those workers believes the number should be much higher, and is encouraging its members to file more claims.As of Oct. 16, data provided to CBC Ottawa from the WSIB, which insures employees who have been injured or become ill on the job, shows two-thirds of all approved COVID-19-related claims in the city came from workers at nursing homes and residential care facilities.> The numbers should be … going through the roof because we have people that are diagnosed. \- David Chezzi, CUPEOf the approximately 400 COVID-19-related claims approved by the WSIB since March 30, 260 are from workers in that sector, while hospital employees accounted for 74 claims. Thirty-two were City of Ottawa employees and another 14 came from people who work in ambulatory health care, which can include paramedics, physicians, dentists and medical laboratory workers."Many of these [long-term care] workers are part-time. They'll just go home. They won't file claims and they'll wait out ... the virus. There is no access to WSIB if you have to go home and self-isolate if you've been, you know, exposed but don't necessarily have a confirmed case," said Candace Rennick, secretary treasurer of CUPE Ontario.Ottawa Public Health data to Oct. 23 shows more than 600 long-term care and retirement home workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Rennick said one reason some of those employees may not be applying for compensation is they don't know they have the right to if they became ill on the job."The numbers should be … going through the roof because we have people that are diagnosed. We have people that are COVID-positive, that are working in all of our facilities, [but] the numbers aren't reflecting that and they should be," said David Chezzi, CUPE's national WSIB specialist.He said employees who believe they've been exposed to the illness in the workplace should fill out a WSIB exposure form, even if they don't test positive for COVID-19 right away."If they don't claim, they lose the protections of the act, which could be [anything] from loss of earning benefits, it could be health-care benefits, it could be survivor benefits unfortunately if people pass away due to the virus."Not all workers coveredThere's another reason some staff may not be applying for workers' compensation: because not all privately run companies have to opt into the program."Under Ontario law, not all long-term care facilities have mandatory coverage," said Katherine Lippel, distinguished researcher in occupational health and safety law at the University of Ottawa. Lippel calls that "very disturbing."In 2019, 77 per cent of Ontario employees were covered under the WSIB.While that may seem high, Lippel points out the number is higher in other provinces including Quebec, where more than 93 per cent of the province's workforce is covered by the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail.She encourages anyone whose employer is covered by WSIB to apply if they become ill."Sometimes people will say, 'I don't want to go to all that trouble. It's complicated,' but it's ... a very dangerous disease."70% of claims from 3 companiesOf the 260 claims filed and approved by the WSIB in the nursing and residential care sector in Ottawa,182 of those employees work for Revera, Extendicare and Royale Development, the latter a subsidiary of Sienna Senior Living.The three companies own and operate a number of nursing and retirement homes in Ottawa, including three — Carlingview Manor, West End Villa and Madonna Care Community — where residents and staff have been particularly hard-hit by outbreaks during both the first and second waves of the pandemic.When asked by CBC Ottawa about the number of COVID-related claims filed to the WSIB, none of the companies addressed the question directly, but instead provided statements saying employees are eligible to apply for WSIB compensation. Extendicare added employees who test positive "receive full pay and benefits while they recover."With Ottawa in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic and considered a hot spot in the province, Rennick said members are concerned about the illness."Our members are extremely worried. They're fearful of getting the virus. They're fearful of bringing the virus into their vulnerable residences. They're fearful of the residents that they work with dying."
As we head into the colder months and the government’s advice to “work from home if you can” continues to ring in our ears, questions about utility bills are rearing their heads. In normal years and under normal circumstances, the increase in a heating or electric bill is offset by the fact that many of us spend our workdays in heated offices. As that’s not going to be the case for many this year, the question becomes: can you ask your employer to pay for your heating? Well…yes and no. There is government relief you can apply for (more on that later) but if you want to go through your employer, things are a bit more complicated. According to Charles Cotton, senior policy advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK’s professional body for HR and people development, for an employer to increase your pay to accommodate increased bills could require changes to contracts. From a legal standpoint, these changes cannot be made on a case-by-case basis. “Most alterations of terms and conditions require employees’ consent and altering pay without this will be a breach of contract leading to claims including unfair dismissal.” All of which is to say that they cannot make these changes without your consent. While a pay increase would likely receive an enthusiastic ‘yes’ from employees, that decision is entirely at the employer’s discretion. As Charles says: “Due to the economic pressures on many employers, they can decline any requests to reimburse employees for these home expenses.” However, if an employer requires employees to work from home, tax relief can be given for the additional costs. It’s important to bear in mind that this is only when you have no choice but to work from home, not if it’s by choice. “The rules mean that effectively a tax-free payment equivalent to about £300 per year can be made to cover increased costs for working from home,” says Charles. He adds: “HMRC guidelines allow employers to offer tax-free payments to workers who regularly work from home and it has been confirmed by HMRC that this applies to those working from home during the pandemic.” So what does this cover? It is strictly within the parameters of use for business only. This means that rent or internet costs do not count as they are both a personal and a business cost. However it does account for: – additional gas and electricity costs while the room is being used for work – metered costs of water used (a few cups of coffee is unlikely to be substantial) – cost of work-related telephone calls. Because establishing these expenses is difficult, HMRC accepts a flat rate allowance of £6 per week or £26 per month (pre-tax) without evidence to support the actual costs. Employees with provable higher costs can claim more if they have evidence of the actual costs incurred. What you will actually get as a basic rate tax payer is about £1.20 per week; if you’re a higher earner it will pay about £2.40. While the employer can claim this on your behalf and pay it to you, you can also bypass your employer and claim back that sweet £1.20 a week yourself directly from HMRC. As of October this year you can go through a specially built portal, avoiding the mess and complications of receipts and calculations. The interim director general of customer services at HMRC, Karl Khan, previously told The Guardian: “Once the application has been approved, the portal will adjust an individual’s tax code for the 2020-21 tax year. The employee will receive the tax relief directly through their salary and will continue to receive the adjustment until March 2021.” If you’re self-employed, you’re entitled to claim more. Per the government website, your claim can include a proportion of lighting, heating, cleaning, insurance, mortgage interest, council tax, water rates and general maintenance costs. These expenses arising from working from home are deducted, reducing the final bill. Expenses are worked out by assessing the amount of time the home is used for work, and how much of the home is being used. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?How To Negotiate Your Bills During COVID-19How To Keep Your House Warm While WFHI'm Self-Employed, What Now?