It’s that exciting time again, when somewhat more than half of Canadians over 18 will come together to select the people who will govern us until the next impassable crisis of parliamentary confidence. For some, it’s a celebratory time when we Canadians demonstrate our democratic will. For others, it’s a cynical time (I know: how can it be?) when incumbents and hopefuls tell us what we want to hear just to win their seats in Ottawa and their cushy benefits.
But let no one say it’s not an interesting and informative time. We have maintained a reasonably strong economy throughout a couple of tough years, but which party (if any) deserves credit for this, and which (if any) is best suited and able to continue the recovery? Is it time to move ahead with billion-dollar spending promises, or is it time for austerity? Are corporate tax cuts the answer, or credits for small businesses? Is it even fair to ask citizens to decide on these questions, which are almost certainly beyond the majority’s understanding?
Did you look at the much-hyped but never debated budget that never even had a chance, thanks to the non-confidence motion that led to the dissolution of Canada’s 40th Parliament? Did it offer you or your business anything to cheer about? In any case, business owners have an important stake in who leads the country, and would do well to make sure they and their employees understand the issues—without actively advocating for one party or candidate. The differences between parties may appear subtle, but you can be sure certain differences will create significant changes in your operating environment.
Corporate tax cuts might sound good on paper, but if the cuts lead to the elimination of other social programs on which your employees rely, making it more difficult for them to balance work and home life, for example, the money you save might not be worth the trouble. On the other hand, greater pension security or increased government pension benefits sound pretty good to retirees or workers near the end of their careers, but where will the government find the money to pay for these things? And will such measures mean increased costs for employers?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that, come election Monday, employees must have time off to vote if they choose. According to HRinfodesk:
A federal election has been called for May 2, 2011. Under the Canada Elections Act, all employees who have the right to vote are entitled to three consecutive hours on election day, during voting hours, to cast their votes. Where an employee’s hours of work prevent him or her from having the three consecutive voting hours required under the Act, the employer must allow the time for voting that is necessary to provide those three consecutive hours. The time off is paid and must be scheduled at the convenience of the employer. For example, if an employee usually finishes work at 5:00 p.m. and the polls close at 7:00 p.m., the employee must be allowed to leave work no later than 4:00 p.m. Where an employee has three consecutive hours that fall within the voting hours, but fall outside of his or her work hours, there is no obligation to provide time off from work.
First Reference Internal Controls, Human Resources and Compliance Editor