CAREERS AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES Remember their sacrifice
Don’t take Canadian freedoms for granted
AS I write this article, I am confident our 2014 Remembrance Day observances will have even more significance than usual. Yes, we will once again remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty in both world wars. However, this year, there are so many international events that have shocked us into the reality of just how fragile world peace really is. For instance, the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine in particular has caused many citizens to be somewhat unsettled. I am hopeful many of our younger generations are now beginning to truly understand what our Canadian freedom and democracy really stands for.
Yet, when a horrific incident occurs, such as the recent killing of the Ottawa reservist, the deliberate vehicular death of a soldier in Quebec and the senseless deaths of three RCMP members in Moncton, our sense of peace and security on the local front comes quickly crashing down. Questions are already being asked: “What’s happening to our society?” “Why are our safe-keepers being targeted for violence?”
When tragedies such as these occur, it’s natural for people to be upset and anxious, especially young people.
So, I am pleased to see schools and teachers have been quick to deal with the student apprehension that inevitably has arisen. Progressive workplaces as well will have already brought staff together to talk about the happenings. After all, everyone knows someone who knows someone who is currently dedicating their life to the safety of our country.
At the same time, when I think of Remembrance Day, I remember and am very thankful for the country we live in and the freedoms we have. Think about it: as a citizen you have the ability to build a successful business, to practice your religion, to select where and when you want to work and where and when you choose to have a family. Personally, I also take care to remember all the leaders who have created progressive legislation that makes our workplaces healthy and safe.
So, as you participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies, please think about all the benefits enjoyed by our employees that help to make our workplaces healthy and safe. Work wasn’t always this way. Let me recap a bit of history.
Early work days were often 10 to 14 hours long with minimal breaks. Young children often worked these hours as well. Conditions were often hot and harsh with few safety considerations. There was no legislation regulating minimum wage in Manitoba until 1918.
Since men were recruited to fight in wars, women were required to work in the factories. However, when veterans returned, many women were displaced from their jobs and returning veterans began to fight for better wages and working conditions. Winnipeg became famous for its 1919 General Strike, which became a platform for future labour reforms.
Annual paid vacations for employees were legislated in Manitoba in 1947 and updated in 1973 to three weeks vacation after five years of service.
Updates in 1957 expanded provisions pertaining to minimum wage, hours of work, general holidays and termination of employment.
Legislation was updated again in 1970, at which time the work week was reduced to 40 hours and in 1977 retail businesses were required to close on statutory holidays and on Sundays.
Workplace-safetyandlegislation was brought in during 1976, and set standards for safe and healthy workplaces and defined the responsibilities of workers and employers; in 2004, legislation was amended to respect the prohibition of smoking in workplaces.
Pay equity was finally addressed in 1986 when the Pay Equity Act was brought in to reduce the wage gap between men and women doing comparable work in the public service.
Parental leave was introduced in 1990 at 17 weeks and in 2000, the leave was increased to 37 weeks and as well the qualification period for maternity and parental leave was reduced from 13 to 7 months.
2001 finally saw pension legislation changed to include same-sex partners.
2003 brought legislative changes to recognize compassionate-care leave so an employee could care for a gravely ill family member.
In 2006, the Workers Compensation Act was amended to expand presumptive compensation for firefighters who contract certain cancers, increased permanent injury benefits and provided for 100 per cent wage replacement.
In 2007, the employment-standards code was amended to provide job protection for members of the reserve force of the Canadian Armed Forces enabling them to take unpaid leave to participate in training and/or active duty.
In 2013, the Workplace Health and Safety Act was once again revised to enable a stop-work order to apply to all Manitoba workplaces where similar activities were taking place.
Although these items are only a reflection of the various workplace legislation acts enacted in Manitoba, it gives readers a good overview of how our workplaces have changed with the times to offer benefits and to protect workers as they carry out their daily tasks. The most recent changes related to harassment, bullying and violence in the workplace demonstrate that employers are paying heightened attention to worker safety and healthy workplaces.
I am well aware of the fact many employees and employers as well, sometimes resent the various protective legislative pieces. These, plus an organization’s policies and procedures, are what provide us security. They are the framework for how we work. They provide clear direction on our values and ethical standards. In fact, as some say, an organization without policies is an organization without control.
Yet at the same time, our rights and responsibilities need to be protected and they are done so by employers, union representatives, legislators and the courts. Our country’s rights and responsibilities, on the other hand, are protected by our police forces and our armed forces. All of these entities are important for our freedom to work where we want, when we want, to be educated in programs that are of interest and to continue to have the right to vote.
This year, our 2014 Remembrance Day celebrations will have even more significance than usual because violence against our protective agencies has come right to our doorstep. Let’s celebrate all those who have helped to make our personal and work lives the best they can be. Wear your red poppy with pride. Source: A History of Manitoba Labour Programs, Manitoba Department of Labour website,
Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group and president of Career Partners International, Manitoba. She can be reached at