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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Canada postal service cutting back on staff hours, switching to three-day delivery as rotating strikes continue

   Canada column for Sunday, June 12/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada Post is cutting staff hours and restricting mail deliveries in urban centers to three days a week as postal workers continue their rotating strikes.
   Due to the job action by 54,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, mail volume has been cut in half, said Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton.
   “We need to take action now to avoid significant losses that would harm our financial self-sustainability,” he added.

   Mail sorting plants remain operating but with reduced hours and fewer staff to cut costs as both sides in the contract dispute remain far apart.
   “We really wanted to minimize disruption of services but now it shows they (Canada Post) want to go further,” said union president Denis Lemelin.
   With confidence diminished in the postal service’s ability to deliver the mail, many consumers and businesses have switched to courier services.
   The government corporation said its last offer would raise the top pay for postal workers to $26 an hour with continued job security, pensions, medical benefits and up to seven weeks of vacation.


   The number of Canadians out of work has fallen to its lowest level in more than two years.
   With 22,300 jobs created last month and fewer people seeking work, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.4 percent.
   Many of the new jobs were self-employment – an option as fewer traditional jobs were available, the numbers showed.
   The manufacturing sector lost 22,500 jobs while budget cuts led to 44,300 fewer government positions.
   Over the past year, there have been 273,000 new jobs created, mostly full time in the private sector.


   News in brief:
   - Sponsors will be required to pay back welfare and social-service benefits of immigrants they’ve sponsored, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled. “The risk of a rogue relative properly lies on the sponsor, not the taxpayer,” said Judge Ian Binnie. The government is “increasingly concerned” about financial burdens shifted to the public treasury to support sponsored relatives, he added.
   - The Conservative government wrongly kept Parliament uninformed about $50 million spent in advance of the G8 summit of world leaders last year. It “did not clearly or transparently” identify how the money was going to be spent, the auditor-general’s report said. It also said there was lack of documentation on 32 summit infrastructure projects in a Conservative member’s district.
   - The cost of Canada’s military mission in Libya could reach $60 million but is important to “save lives,” said Defense Minister Peter MacKay. The government wants to extend the mission to the end of September. There are 650 soldiers in Libya along with fighter jets, aerial tankers, a warship and surveillance planes.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar returns $1.0224 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback is worth 97.81 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Lower oil prices and concern over the global economic recovery have dragged down Canadian stock markets. The Toronto exchange index was 13,102 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,932 points on Friday.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 7, 10, 21, 22, 38 and 39; bonus 11. (June 4) 19, 20, 27, 29, 33 and 45; bonus 41. Lotto Max: (June 3) 8, 21, 28, 32, 33, 34 and 48; bonus 38.


   Regional briefs:
   - A section of the Trans-Canada highway between Langley and Abbotsford in British Columbia has been renamed the Highway of Heroes. This is to honor Canadian soldiers killed in the conflict in Afghanistan and other missions. A section of Highway 401 in Ontario between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Toronto is also similarly named.
   - Bruce Crozier, the Ontario Legislature’s deputy speaker, has died of an aneurysm in Windsor. The Essex Member of the Legislature was 72 and planned to retire in the fall. Other politicians paid tribute to him as a voice of dignity and civility.
   - A big chunk of the waterfront in Halifax is to be developed. The government’s Waterfront Development Corp. is showing three concepts for the area at the foot of George Street. Designs include shops, restaurants and an estuary basin.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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