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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Royal Bank executive apologizes after uproar over firing workers and outsourcing overseas

   Canada column for Sunday, April 14/13


   By Jim Fox

   An angry backlash against the Royal Bank over outsourcing jobs to foreign workers has led to the chief executive making amends.
   CEO Gordon Nixon said the bank apologizes to “all Canadians” and the 45 information technology workers that were let go will “offered comparable job opportunities.”
   Officials of Canada’s largest bank earlier had denied reports the employees were being replaced with less-costly help from India under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
   It turned out the foreign workers were being supplied by iGate, an outsourcing company the bank has worked with since 2005.
   Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said the program is intended to permit foreign workers only when no Canadians are available.
   “I want to apologize to the employees affected by this outsourcing arrangement as we should have been more sensitive and helpful to them,” Nixon said.
   The bank is reviewing its supplier arrangements and policies while keeping its call centers that support domestic and U.S. business in Canada, he added.


   Nova Scotia police said they will not tolerate vigilante action or threats against four teenaged boys who allegedly raped a girl who later killed herself.
   The parents of Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, of Cole Harbour said she was raped two years ago and then mercilessly bullied after photos of the attack circulated online.
   Police said they lacked evidence to arrest the youths but the hacker collective Anonymous announced it has identified the four boys and wants justice to be done.
   A nationwide outcry and online petition with more than 100,000 signatures prompted provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry to call for a review of how police and prosecutors handled the case.


   News in brief:
   - The Liberals will cash in on a surge of goodwill from Canadian voters should Justin Trudeau be named leader as expected today, an online survey says. Abacus Data found support for the Liberals, who slumped to third place in the 2011 election, at its highest point since then. It shows the ruling Conservatives at 33 percent while the Liberals and New Democrats were tied at 27 percent.
   - Canada is eighth in the top tourist destinations in the world, the World Economic Forum says. Its assessment of 140 countries said Canada’s allures include World Heritage Sites such as the Rocky Mountains and old Quebec City, cultural diversity and strong air transport infrastructure. Negatives were uncompetitive prices and failing to enforce some key environmental protection measures. Switzerland was first in the rankings while the U.S. was sixth.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 98.68 cents in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0133 in Canadian funds, 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.
   Stock markets are mixed with the Toronto exchange index up at 12,330 points and the TSX Venture index down at 1,022 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (April 10) 1, 9, 12, 29, 30 and 42; bonus 22. (April 6) 11, 19, 27, 28, 30 and 39; bonus 21. Lotto Max: (April 5) 2, 14, 15, 17, 24, 38 and 40; bonus 31.


   Regional briefs:
   - The death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski who was Tasered by Mounties at Vancouver’s airport six years ago was a homicide, the British Columbia Coroners’ Service ruled. It did not assess any blame but said Dziekanski, 40, died of a heart attack after the Taser jolts. An inquiry found police used excessive force and the four officers involved are to stand trial for perjury related to their testimony.
   - Police said a marital breakup led to a fatal shooting at a day-care center in Gatineau, Quebec. Robert Charron told workers to take the 53 children to safety before he shot Neil Galliou, 38, a staff member, and took his own life. Charron had doused his estranged wife Nathalie Gagnon and her office with a flammable liquid but didn’t manage to ignite either, police said.
   - A leading pharmacy expert has been named to investigate how diluted chemotherapy drugs were given to 1,100 cancer patients in five hospitals in Ontario and New Brunswick for up to a year. Waterloo Prof. Jake Thiessen will lead the review into how bags of the drugs were filled with too much saline by a private supplier, watering down the medication by as much as 20 percent.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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