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More people are heading back to the workplace, but that doesn't mean they all like it – CBC News

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Career consultant Sweta Regmi remembers the days when working from home was unfathomable to her.

If you had asked her years ago, when she was employed at a call centre, Regmi would have had a question of her own for you.

“Are you crazy?” Regmi, founder and CEO of Teachndo Career Consultancy in Sudbury, Ont., said, laughing at the distant memory.

But that was then — not today, when even her former colleagues at the call centre have been working from home amid a pandemic-era pivot toward more flexible work.

Yet the proportion of Canadians who are working from home most of the time is decreasing, as the protective lid of public health restrictions is pulled back and businesses grow more confident about bringing their people back to the office.

That’s setting up tension with those employees who don’t want to go back to the way things were — but who will have to adjust if that’s what they must do.

A shifting landscape?

Statistics Canada reports that nearly one in five employed Canadians were still doing most of their work from home as of May.

That sounds like a lot, but it’s down from more than 24 per cent in January — and well down from what was reported during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rising fuel prices are just one cost that office staff returning to the workplace will face following an extended period of working from home during the pandemic. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

Ruel Tria has been working at home for more than two years. For him, the arrangement is just fine.

“Our business allows that,” said Tria, an operations supervisor who did all of his work in a Toronto office prior to the pandemic.

But that could change, as his workplace has sent out surveys asking about potential concerns employees might have about returning to the office.

Tria has been saving money while working at home, as well as the time he used to spend commuting.

“My concern is obviously the rising fuel costs,” Tria said, noting that’s just one cost that’s making the lives of commuters more expensive.

Nita Chhinzer, an associate professor of human resources in the department of management at the University of Guelph in southwestern Ontario, said there are various reasons employees are not keen on returning to the office — not all of them strictly financial in nature.

WATCH | Varying attitudes on heading back to the office: 

The push and pull of bringing people back to the office

5 hours ago

Duration 1:47

Nita Chhinzer, an associate professor of human resources at the University of Guelph, talks to CBC’s Canada Tonight about issues employers are wrestling with as they try to bring staff back to the office after an extended period of working from home during the pandemic.

“Maybe someone moved away from the city, or maybe they sold the car, or maybe they don’t want to do the commute anymore, or maybe they’re realizing that the work politics and drama isn’t of interest to them anymore,” Chhinzer told CBC’s Canada Tonight on Friday.

Beyond that, she said, there are varying views among people on what works best for them — including those who want to be back in the office more regularly — and that’s something employers have to wrestle with.

“The challenge for employers today is: How do they provide that flexibility but still create an environment where they can bring people together and kind of recreate the pulse of the workplace?” Chhinzer said.

People aren’t where they used to be

Cities are also feeling the effects of seeing fewer people make the trek into the office.

In Toronto, the return to the office has lagged and foot traffic in the downtown office core remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

The proportion of Canadians who are working from home most of the time is decreasing, as the protective lid of public health restrictions is pulled back and businesses grow more confident about bringing staff back to the office. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Marcy Burchfield, vice-president of the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Economic Blueprint Institute, said the lengthy pandemic restrictions the city faced have shaped its rate of recovery.

“People across the Toronto region, they worked remotely for prolonged periods of times,” Burchfield said.

“There’s a direct relationship between how long a jurisdiction was locked down and the return of office trajectory. And Toronto is a perfect example of that.”

And that trajectory could remain slower than some businesses would like: Mark Rose, chief executive of the commercial real estate firm Avison Young, told the Globe and Mail this past week that a full, across-the-board return to the office is likely five years away.

Flexibility a key draw for some

Out on the East Coast, Paige Black is working in a new job that she specifically sought out because of the flexibility it offers in allowing her to work from home in Dartmouth, N.S.

She left her last job because that option was no longer going to be available in the same way.

WATCH | Not everyone wants to go back: 

Companies forcing return to office a dealbreaker for some, survey suggests

3 months ago

Duration 2:05

One in three Canadians say they would consider looking for a new job if their employer forced them back into the office and nearly a quarter would quit immediately, a new CBC News and Angus Reid survey suggests.

Like Tria, Black used to work in an office before the pandemic. The non-profit professional admits she “wasn’t a huge fan” of working from home, at least initially.

But she soon found that more flexible work offered many advantages, including more control over her day-to-day life.

“I felt like I got more of my time back,” she said.

Sweta Regmi, the founder and CEO of Teachndo Career Consultancy in Sudbury, Ont., says that for some employees, the ability to have flexible work is a ‘priceless’ perk. (Submitted by Sweta Regmi)

For Black and many others, that kind of flexibility is hard to beat.

“Nobody can put a price tag on flexibility,” said Regmi, the career consultant, summing up its worth to workers. “That’s priceless.”

Embracing flexibility

At some larger organizations in Canada, there’s a recognition that flexibility is here to stay — and they’re focusing on what they need to do to support that.

At the Canada Life Assurance Company, for instance, the organization is aiming to support both its people and a range of working styles.

The Canada Life Assurance Company says it has made changes to its main campuses and some of its regional offices, in a bid to provide more updated meeting facilities and more modern meeting areas for its employees. (Submitted by Liz Kulyk)

“Our approach to returning to the office is one that empowers our 11,000 employees to do their best work — wherever they are,” Colleen Bailey Moffitt, the company’s senior vice-president of human resources, said in an emailed statement.

Bailey Moffitt said Canada Life is “committed to supporting a hybrid, flexible way of working” and recognizes its teams and people have varying needs. It permits leaders to decide “which work style fits best for their team.”

But the insurance giant has also taken steps to make sure its various campuses and offices are welcoming to staff and fully equipped for their in-person work. And it has invested in those spaces over the past two years, including modernizing its meeting rooms and common spaces.

Other large employers have made similar investments to facilities over the course of the pandemic, as the changing long-term needs of their businesses have become apparent.

The federal government has also paid attention to the broader shift in how people — including its own public servants — are working.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal public servants proved their ability to adapt to new ways of working both on-site and remotely while delivering results for Canadians,” the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said in a statement.

The board said it does not have government-wide data available on the proportion of federal servants working on-site versus a remote setup, but it said “more and more employees are making their way into work sites on a regular basis.”

The experience of the past two-plus years will help guide the government in developing “flexible, hybrid workforce models as part of how and where public servants work in the future,” the board said.

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Ford government caps rent increases to 2.5% in 2023 – CityNews Toronto

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  1. Ford government caps rent increases to 2.5% in 2023  CityNews Toronto
  2. Ontario is doubling how much landlords can hike rent prices by in 2023  blogTO
  3. Ontario rent guideline highest increase in a decade  CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News
  4. Rent increases in Ontario capped at 2.5 per cent next year  Tbnewswatch.com
  5. View Full coverage on Google News



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Air Canada to reduce flights this summer amid 'customer service shortfalls' – CTV News

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Air Canada is planning to reduce its flights in July and August, according to a statement from the company’s president, as the airline continues to deal with “customer service shortfalls.”

“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” Michael Rousseau wrote.

The airline will be reducing its capacity as summer travel comes to a peak and pandemic-related restrictions on travel continue to lift.

In an emailed statement to CTV News Channel, an Air Canada spokesperson said the company will be reducing its schedule by an average of 154 flights per day for July and August. Prior to this change, Air Canada said it was operating around 1,000 flights per day. The routes most affected are flights to and from Toronto and Montreal airports. The changes will reduce the frequency of these flights, and will primarily affect evening and late-night flights on the airline’s smaller aircraft.

The spokesperson also said the airline will be temporarily suspending routes between Montreal and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna, and Toronto and Fort McMurray. International flights will remain mostly unaffected, except for timing changes that the spokesperson said would reduce flying at peak times.

“To bring about the level of operational stability we need, with reluctance, we are now making meaningful reductions to our schedule in July and August in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate,” the statement reads.

While Rousseau acknowledges this will have a “negative impact on some customers,” he said he hopes giving this notice to the public of the airline’s reduced schedule will allow travellers to make other arrangements.

“We are convinced these changes will bring about the improvements we have targeted,” he said. “But to set expectations, it should also be understood the real benefits of this action will take time and be felt only gradually as the industry regains the reliability and robustness it had attained prior to the pandemic.”

Recent data shows that as we head into the summer travel season, more than half of all flights in and out of some of Canada’s major airports are being cancelled or delayed as the tourism and airline sectors continue to face staffing shortages. 

On Wednesday, the CEO of the Montreal-Trudeau Airport – where Air Canada said it would be reducing some of its flights – told CTV News Montreal that the airport was already in discussions with airlines to reduce the number of flights.

“We’re having discussions and it’s likely the frequencies — the number of flights we’ll have on a given destination — or destinations themselves,” Philippe Rainville said, adding that a staffing shortage at the airport is causing issues, most notably in loading and unloading luggage from planes.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is experiencing similar issues, with videos circulating on social media appearing to depict hundreds of pieces of luggage piled up in the baggage claim area.

“I have had conversations with the four largest airports and the two largest airlines just on Thursday and I will be having follow up conversations with them soon,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said at a press conference on Wednesday. “They know that they need to add more resources and they are working on that and we are offering our support to address these issues. But these are unacceptable issues.”

Airline and airport workers say some of the big reasons behind the struggle to address the industry’s staffing shortage are that they’re not being treated well, and their pay is not sufficient for how difficult the job is.

“There are so many screening officers that have quit because of low pay and poor working conditions that the airports are severely understaffed,” David Lipton, representative of the United Steelworkers union in Ottawa, told CTV National News on June 19.

Lipton said some unions are offering screening staff hundreds of dollars a week if they don’t take a vacation or sick days. 

With files from CTV News Montreal, CTV News Toronto, and Alexandra Mae Jones

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Accounting firm EY to pay $100M US fine after auditors caught cheating on ethics exams – CBC News

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Accounting firm Ernst & Young will pay $100 million US to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges that its auditors cheated on certified public accounting (CPA) exams and that it misled the agency’s investigators.

The London-based auditor admitted to the charges and agreed to pay what the SEC said is its largest fine against an auditor.

“EY acknowledges the findings determined by the SEC,” said Brendan Mullin, EY media relations director, adding that the firm’s response has been “thorough, extensive and effective.”

“At EY, nothing is more important than our integrity and our ethics.”

The CPA is the key qualification for accountants in the United States.

EY has also agreed to “undertake extensive remedial measures to fix the firm’s ethical issues,” the SEC said.

49 people got test answers ahead of time

The Wall Street watchdog found that 49 EY professionals “obtained or circulated” answer keys to CPA licence exams, while hundreds of others cheated to complete the continuing professional education components relating to CPA ethics.

“This action involves breaches of trust by gatekeepers … entrusted to audit many of our nation’s public companies. It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams,” said Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s enforcement director, in a statement.

“And it’s equally shocking that Ernst & Young hindered our investigation of this misconduct,” added Grewal.

EY submitted to the SEC that it did not have issues with cheating when, in fact, the firm had been informed of potential cheating on a CPA ethics exam by a member of staff, the SEC said.

It added that EY admitted it did not correct its submission even after an internal EY investigation confirmed there had been cheating, and even after its senior lawyers discussed the matter with the firm’s senior management.

The SEC’s order also finds that EY violated a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) rule requiring the firm to maintain integrity in the performance of a professional service.

The SEC has ordered EY to retain two independent consultants to help remediate its deficiencies. One will review the firm’s policies and procedures relating to ethics and integrity. The other will review EY’s conduct regarding its disclosure failures, including whether any EY employees contributed to the firm’s failure to correct its misleading submission, the SEC said.

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