Although COVID-19 spread in Canada remains far greater than it was last spring, many Canadian employers seem ready to abandon the hiring freezes and bare-bones workforces that got them through 2020.
A recent survey conducted on behalf of staffing agency Express Employment Professionals (EEP) found that 31 per cent of hiring decision-makers expect their company to increase hiring in 2021, while only 10 per cent expect less hiring this year.
When a similar survey was taken at this time last year, only 16 per cent of hiring managers expected their company to take on new workers.
Of course, 2020 didn’t play out the way anyone was expecting it to last January. Last year’s survey was taken before COVID-19 had even been given that name, much less become a serious concern among Canadians.
Larger companies appear to be most bullish on hiring this year. According to the company’s survey, 42 per cent of employers with 100 or more employees plan to add to their workforces in 2021, versus 17 per cent of companies with fewer than 10 employees.
“The larger companies tend to be more resilient, they’re more diverse, they’ve got a little bit more flexibility from a cash perspective as well,” Jessica Culo, an EEP franchise owner in Edmonton, told CTVNews.ca via telephone.
“The smaller businesses tend to be not so optimistic.”
That lack of optimism is well-earned. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses estimates that 58,000 small businesses became inactive in 2020, and 181,000 – about one in six – are seriously contemplating following their lead.
Every time a business closes, its competitors gain a bit of market share, which may also help explain why larger organizations are in a better position to hire this year, Culo said.
Less clear is when over the next 11 months that hiring will actually happen. Most companies seem to be holding off for now, Culo said, anticipating that vaccinations and reopenings will have life somewhat back to normal before the end of 2021.
The EEP survey was conducted by The Harris Poll between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020, and involved online surveys of 506 Canadian hiring decision-makers.
WHERE ARE THE JOBS?
If the jobs boom EEP expects does come to pass, it won’t happen right away.
After regaining first-wave job losses for seven straight months, the Canadian economy shed 63,000 positions in December, according to Statistics Canada. Economists expect the January numbers to show further tightening of the job market, due to the restrictions on businesses in most provinces over the holiday season.
But while the losses were felt heavily in the most affected economic sectors – accommodation and food services, hair salons and culture, among others – some industries were gaining jobs even as COVID-19 cases hit record levels.
Topping that list was manufacturing, which picked up 15,000 jobs in December. Culo said manufacturing and supply chain industries, such as transportation, logistics and packaging, are among those that seem to be hiring most in the first weeks of 2021 as well.
Beyond that, though, she is also seeing demand in medical services and supplies, construction, project management, business services and accounting.
Staffing and recruitment agency Randstad Canada sees similar trends. Delivery drivers, procurement and supply chain specialists, and warehouse workers all made the cut for its list of the jobs expected to experience the most growth in Canadian demand in 2021.
“There’s lots of opportunity that’s starting to come back. The economy is starting to recover, regardless of what’s going on with the closures,” Carolyn Levy, Randstad’s president of technologies and chief diversity officer, told CTVNews.ca on Thursday via telephone from Calgary.
Randstad’s list also includes several positions that have direct connections to pandemic life: customer service representatives, essential retail workers, security analysts and architects, IT and support desk specialists, and registered nurses.
Retail workers may seem like an outlier on that list, even narrowed down to the essential stores allowed to stay open in many parts of the country. Levy said the health risk posed by working in retail is making it hard for some companies to fill all of their open positions.
“It’s actually been quite difficult to attract people into that sector and then keep it sustainable, so they feel secure and safe while they’re just trying to stock the shelves or help you check out,” she said.
“That’s not something we associated to groceries before – you are having a higher risk by being present. Not everyone’s up for that.”
Administrative assistants are on Randstad’s list, too. Levy said that these positions were more often being eliminated before the pandemic, but employers now see them as necessary.
“That’s really coming back, because of how many people are remote and the logistics around working with teams,” she said.
THE FUTURE IS REMOTE
Several of the positions on Randstad’s most-hirable list can be done remotely. However, the company sees remote work as such a prominent and permanent fixture of the Canadian business landscape that it released a separate list focusing only on jobs that can be performed from home.
That top 10 includes the IT roles necessary to make remote work feasible, as well as 21st-century positions, such as social media managers and digital marketers, but also some jobs for which not working in an office was once thought impossible, including accountants and human resources administrators.
According to Levy, employers who have surveyed their employees about what sort of workplace they want going forward have found that an overwhelming majority of workers want to be able to continue to work from home at least some of the time.
The shift to remote work is not only affecting how employers interact with their employees, it’s also changing how companies deal with each other.
Culo said workers in sales positions have seen significant changes, as virtual meetings provide for a different sort of relationship-building with clients than the traditional face-to-face approach.
“The men and women that we’re placing in those roles, they’re having to adapt,” she said.
Buoyed by the rise of remote work, some Canadians are already fleeing big cities for quieter and more affordable communities, expecting that they’ll be able to do their jobs from these places even once the pandemic is over. Employers, likewise, are realizing that there are benefits to attracting talented workers who may not want to live near their offices or deal with long commutes.
“Definitely this stuff is going to stick. This has introduced a new way of work, and it’s disrupted a lot of old business norms that used to exist,” Levy said.
“This is what businesses have to pay attention to, if they have not paid attention to it yet.”
Canada’s transport minister detects ‘shift’ in U.S. outlook after meetings in D.C.
WASHINGTON — The latest federal cabinet minister to press Canada’s case with President Joe Biden’s administration says he is detecting a positive “shift” in U.S. thinking when it comes to the question of tax incentives for electric vehicles.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra spent Tuesday in Washington, D.C., for meetings with officials including U.S. counterpart Pete Buttigieg and senior White House adviser Mitch Landrieu.
It was just the latest in a series of cabinet-level visits — Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Trade Minister Mary Ng have been in town in recent weeks — where the ministerial marching orders included voicing opposition to the tax-credit scheme.
Biden’s original vision was a sliding scale of tax incentives, with the richest ones reserved for electric vehicles assembled in the U.S. with union labour — a proposal Ottawa feared would be devastating for Canada’s auto sector.
It died back in December when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a vital vote in the evenly divided Senate, refused to support Biden’s $2-trillion environmental and social spending package, known as Build Back Better.
Ever since, Canada has maintained a strict defensive footing against the tax credits coming back to life.
“I don’t know if the old incarnation is going to come back exactly as it was or not. But I can say that what I am sensing today is that there is now a shift in strategic outlook,” Alghabra said.
The war in Ukraine, and the way NATO members and allies have made common cause with each other in pushing back against Russia, is putting a “new frame” around how the U.S. deals with its allies, he noted.
The world, including the U.S., better understands that trustworthy trading partners and consistent, reliable supply chains that are impervious to unexpected geopolitical shocks have long been taken for granted.
“There is, I think, a new frame for the conversations that are taking place in the U.S. And while I don’t know what the future of the previous EV tax credit is, I am hopeful that I think now we’re entering into a new type of discussion.”
The White House has acknowledged that it’s working on a scaled-down version of Build Back Better, but has so far refused to say publicly whether the tax credits would return in their original form.
Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said discussions are underway for legislation that would resurrect some of the environmental provisions of Build Back Better, including its “energy transition-related elements.”
Canada would welcome and support any effort on the part of the U.S. to fight climate change, she said.
“But we never miss an opportunity to re-emphasize with them that, in so doing, it’s imperative that as the staunchest of environmental allies, we do it together in a way that supports each other and doesn’t make this path that we’re on together harder for either of us,” Hillman said.
“That message is heard loud and clear by lawmakers on the Hill, by the White House, and they have expressed an understanding of our concerns, and more than that, a desire to make sure that it works for us in our partnership.”
Manchin, the mercurial moderate Democrat whose support has become essential for any White House measure on Capitol Hill, recently suggested he would not support any proposal that would harm Canada’s auto industry.
Manchin, who heads the Senate’s energy and natural resources committee, hosted Jason Kenney when the Alberta premier testified in person on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
The pair have become cross-border allies as the U.S. looks for ways to both combat inflation while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels from hostile regimes, while Kenney continues to prod the Biden administration to depend more on Canada for its short-term energy needs.
After the May 17 hearing, Manchin said he expects the White House is still working on some sort of a program to encourage American consumers to buy more electric vehicles and ease U.S. dependence on gasoline.
But he insisted that he wouldn’t support any measure that would hurt automakers north of the border.
“There’s no way in the world that we’re going to put that type of harm and allow that to happen,” Manchin said. “My vote would never support that at all.”
It was not abundantly clear whether Manchin was talking specifically about the tax credits or more broadly about Canada’s own efforts to develop its reserves of critical minerals, a key component in the production of electric vehicles.
That ambiguity is part of why Canada remains so guarded on the subject, Hillman said.
“Until we see what is actually on the table and how it’s going to be implemented, we cannot rest.”
Manchin and Kenney both voiced support for the idea of a more closely integrated Canada-U.S. energy “alliance.” It would focus on the need for traditional energy in the short term, as well as reliable bilateral supply chains for critical minerals.
Alghabra said the role Canada could play in buttressing U.S. supply chains for those minerals is also generating increased interest south of the border.
“We have more of those critical minerals, and some types of the critical minerals that the U.S. doesn’t have,” he said. “There’s a new sense of interest and intrigue about this new frame that I think maybe did not exist last year.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
James McCarten, The Canadian Press
‘Extremely serious’: Calgary man involved in terrorism activity sentenced to 12 years
CALGARY — A man who admitted to terrorism-related acts with the militant group Islamic State has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Hussein Borhot, 36, appeared Thursday before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz for a sentencing hearing in Calgary.
“Quite clearly, you intended to assist or facilitate the activities of a terrorist group. You carried that plan into action,” Labrenz told Borhot as the judge accepted a joint sentencing recommendation from the Crown and the defence.
“This was an extremely serious and grave crime.”
Borhot pleaded guilty last month to one count of participating in terrorism group activity between May 9, 2013, and June 7, 2014, as well as to kidnapping for a terrorist group while in Syria.
The joint submission recommended eight years on the first count and another four years for the kidnapping.
Labrenz also imposed a lifetime firearms ban and ordered Borhot’s DNA be submitted to a national database.
RCMP arrested Borhot in July 2020 after a seven-year investigation.
An agreed statement of facts read in court in April said he travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State.
The statement said he signed up as a fighter, received substantial training and excelled as a sniper, but did not tell his wife or father before the trip.
Court heard that Borhot revealed much of the information to an undercover officer after he returned to Canada.
Before the judge’s decision, Crown prosecutor Kent Brown said it was important to keep in mind that Borhot participated in acts of terrorism.
“Once he decided to join up with ISIS, virtually all his activities were terrorist activities,” he told Labrenz.
Borhot’s lawyer, Rame Katrib, said he and his client agreed to the sentence after lengthy discussions with the Crown.
“Mr. Borhot has tendered a plea of guilty, when there were a lot of issues that could have been litigated, but he has taken responsibility,” Katrib said.
Twelve years in prison isn’t a lenient sentence, the defence lawyer said.
“He’s been back in Canada since these offences occurred,” he said. “He’s been here many years and in that time period he has built a family, he’s worked, he’s led a quiet life.”
Borhot, he noted, was free on bail with strict conditions that included wearing an ankle-tracking device, complying with all laws and checking in regularly with authorities.
“When he goes to jail, he is leaving behind a family. He has four children.”
Katrib said the prison term not only takes into account a fit sentence but rehabilitation as a possibility.
“Mr. Borhot left the organization of his own volition and returned to Canada,” he said.
“The entirety of the family was never supportive of this type of thing and even now are very ashamed of what’s happened, as is Mr. Borhot.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2022.
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
The Gender War amongst Us
The United Nations define gender-based violence as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and other persons, including threats of acts of violence, coercion and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
Gender-Based Violence is a global public health problem that challenges and affects the morbidity and mortality of women and the LGBTQ Community. It is estimated that 30% of women and 85% of The LGBTQ have experienced at least one form of GBV in their lifetime since the age of 15. The United Nations study among Women of reproductive age revealed that Intimate Partner Violence(IVP) ranged from 15% in Urban Regions(ie Japan) to 71% in Rural Regions (ie Ethiopia)Evidence reveals that this problem is most prominent in developing nations where socioeconomic status is low and education limited, especially in sub-Saharan Africa countries.
Gender Prejudice and Violence directed towards Women and The LGBTQ Community is globally widespread, even within the well-educated populations of the developed world.
Gender-Based Violence is a common practice in Africa, Asia and developing nations in Latin America. Most African Cultural beliefs and traditions promote men’s hierarchical roles in sexual relationships and especially in marriage. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the African population live in rural settings which increases the difficulty to access basic amenities and communities are isolated from the influence of central governments or the laws that prohibit GBV. Despite legislative advances, GBV remains pervasive and a daily reality for Women, Girls and THE LGBTQ Communities. Within Rwanda, many Women and Girls experience multiple and intersecting forms of violence and oppression including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation and human trafficking.
Gender Biased Violence directed towards The LGBTQ Community is high within African society, where their lifestyle may appear as a challenge to other males’ masculinity or gender understanding. Within the Latin Community, such violence exists but is far less felt than in areas within Africa. The Latin Worlds’ understanding of masculinity seems to vary, appearing to be more accepting of “the different”. Many Latin Males have multiple gender partners even within marriage. African attitudes are far more conservative and unyielding.
Gender Politics have shaped our world, moving from ancient acceptance of the power and influence of Womanhood to a place where religion became the excuse to oppress Women and other elements of society like the LGBTQ Community. Humanities’ move toward freedom and self-expression has been squashed by the manipulative, powerful masculinity of Mankind. Impressions of a controlling, protective society show us what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives.
Equality, self-determination and self-expression for Women and the LGBTQ Community still remain important aspects of the developed world’s policymaking and implementation. Within the continents of Africa, Central and Latin America, and some Asian nations government policymakers attempt to legally establish the necessary laws to protect their populations, but cultural, political and societal traditions and prejudices have entangled themselves within these nations’ evolutionary movement towards equal rights and gender democracy. A Gender War remains among us, within us, allowing prejudice, fear and hate to shape our society. Like all wars, there are many casualties, but with education, determination and the hand of justice applied, this war can be won.
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