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Alberta

Amazon to hire 15,000 employees across Canada; increase wages

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CALGARY — Amazon Canada will hire 15,000 new warehouse and distribution workers in communities across the country this fall to support its ongoing Canadian expansion plans, the e-commerce giant said Monday.

At the same time, Amazon also announced it will increase the starting wage for its front-line, hourly employees in Canada 27 per cent to $21.65 an hour from $17 an hour.

Existing employees will also receive an additional $1.60 to $2.20 per hour, starting immediately, Amazon said, regardless of how long they’ve been with the company.

“We are growing very rapidly in the country,” said Sumegha Kumar, director of Canadian customer fulfilment operations for Amazon Canada, in an interview.

“Our business is expanding a lot, and we want to continue to stay focused on our customers, so we obviously have needs around hiring and retaining top talent.”

Amazon Canada currently has 25,000 full-time and part-time employees in 25 communities across five provinces. The company is growing rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting explosion in online shopping. Amazon now has 46 warehouse, logistics and delivery facilities in Canada compared with 30 in mid-2020. More growth announcements are expected later this year, according to the company.

However, Amazon’s expansion plans come at the same time segments of the Canadian economy are experiencing significant labour shortages. According to Statistics Canada, the country added 90,200 jobs in August, bringing the country as close as it has been to recouping historic employment losses last year.

The Canadian unemployment rate fell to 7.1 per cent for the month, compared with 7.5 per cent in July, bringing the rate to the lowest level since the onset of the pandemic last year.

But not all those jobs are being filled. TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said Friday that labour supply hasn’t kept pace with the robust demand for workers in high-touch industries like retail and food service, and that is resulting in staff shortages.

“Career changes, and ongoing health concerns could be possible reasons for the lack of available workers,” he said.

Kumar declined to say if Amazon is encountering a labour shortage in Canada, though she acknowledged “there are some places where we have more of an opportunity than others” to fill vacant positions. She said raising wages is one way to ensure the company stays competitive.

“We will always continue to look at how our market is progressing and make the necessary investments in our compensation structure,” she said.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it will boost wages for its new U.S. hires to $17 an hour, as it seeks to add 75,000 new workers in that country.

Other companies south of the border, including McDonald’s, Costco and Walmart have also boosted wages to attract more applicants and keep up with a flood of customers as pandemic restrictions ease.

Amazon is also offering a $100 bonus for new and current employees who show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The company dealt with ongoing outbreaks of the virus at several of its facilities throughout the pandemic.

Amazon has not mandated vaccinations for its employees.

— With files from Jordan Press, and The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 13, 2021.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Veteran Canadian rider Mario Deslauriers wins Spruce Meadows Grand Prix

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CALGARY — Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 posted two clear rounds Saturday to take the Queen Elizabeth II Cup Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows.

In a jump-off with Mexico’s Carlos Hank Guerreiro and Australian Katie Laurie, Deslauriers and the 12-year-old mare didn’t put a rail down and topped the leaderboard with a time of 53.05 seconds.

Deslauriers said Bardolina 2 can be difficult to ride, but she was on her game Saturday in Calgary.

“Today, she jumped incredible,” Deslauriers said. “She was straight like an arrow and she jumped beautiful.”

Deslauriers and Bardolina 2 were Canada’s lone show jumping entry in the summer’s Tokyo Olympics where the duo placed 22nd.

“She was very good I think in the medal round (there),” Deslauriers said. “She had two fences down that were very cheap, but overall she jumped super well.

“Before she came here, she had to do three weeks quarantine because I was over my limit when I came back from Europe.

“Really, I jumped her one time at home, she got in the truck and came here, so I think she’s matured a lot. I can count on her. I don’t need to practise so much any more.”

Deslauriers, 56, is from Saint-Jean, Que., but lives in New York.

The North American is the last of three September tournaments totalling $5.6 million in prize money.

Spruce Meadows resumed hosting international show jumping events after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

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Alberta

Mother and child lived in same complex as man charged in their murders: Alberta RCMP

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HINTON, Alta. — RCMP in Alberta say a man charged in the deaths of a woman and her 16-month-old toddler lived in the same apartment complex as the victims, but otherwise had no connection to them.

Police say in a news release that Robert Keith Major, 53, from Hinton, Alta., has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of indignity to human remains.

Mounties in Hinton have said the bodies of the 24-year-old woman and her child were found after they’d been reported missing on Thursday night from the community 290 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Police say they are not releasing the names of the woman and child out of respect for the wishes of the family, adding the family has asked for privacy to grieve.

They say they are not seeking any other suspects in the case.

Major remains in custody and will appear in Edson provincial court on Tuesday.

Autopsies are taking place Saturday and Sunday, police say.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

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