CA­REERS AND JOB OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES Re­mem­ber their sacrifice

Don’t take Cana­dian free­doms for granted

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

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


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