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7-day holiday work weeks highlight pay disparity between urban, rural mail carriers





Postal workers across Canada are being asked to work seven-day weeks during the holiday season, but differences in how some are paid is sparking complaints of unfairness.

The federal government passed back-to-work legislation on Nov. 27, bringing an end to six weeks of rotating strikes across the country. Mike Palecek, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said Monday that union members are now working every day of the week. 

The extra days are necessary to clear a six-million parcel backlog, according to Canada Post. Palecek said the backlog is due to poor planning by Canada Post, not the strikes.

Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC), who deliver parcels and mail to shared mailboxes, are among those being asked to work seven-day weeks.

Urban letter carriers, who deliver door-to-door on foot, are paid double-time for working on weekends.​

RSMCs who work on weekends are only paid based on the number of parcels delivered, thanks to a different contract than urban letter carriers.

We do the same work, we just do it in different areas.– William Johnson, president, Canadian Union of Postal Workers local 820

While working weekend days is not mandatory for RSMCs, a Canadian Union of Postal Workers representative told CBC News it’s not that simple.

“Someone else will do the work for us, or, if they can’t find anybody to work, it’ll make our Mondays just crazy,” union spokesperson Barb McMillan said.

“We’ll have to put out all of that mail on Monday and we won’t get paid any extra time for it.”

She said putting off weekend deliveries makes for longer hours on weekdays with no extra pay.

“If our route is assessed at seven hours and we have parcels from the weekend, plus another ten hours of work from Monday, then we’ll have to work like 15 hours of work on the Monday and still only be compensated for the seven hours,” she said.

Extra money or extra stress: the RSMC choice

Nancy Gizem, an RSMC, said skipping weekend work can sometimes create backlogs of hundreds of parcels.

“The parcels, they don’t even know where to put them anymore, because there’s no room around, they’re just piled wherever they have a spot to pile them,” Gizem said.

She said Canada Post has asked employees to work weekends during the holiday season for the last seven or eight years, as parcel deliveries have increased due to the popularity of online shopping.

Nancy Gizem, a rural and suburban mail carrier, says many of her peers work weekends despite not getting paid overtime for doing so, to avoid feeling overburdened during the weekdays. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Gizem said that in the past, she’s ended up working 12- to 14-hour days on weekends on top of her regular shifts.

She said employees face a choice between earning a small amount of extra money or working extra hours on Mondays.

“Most of us just go in [on weekends] because we don’t want to be overburdened for the rest of the week,” Gizem said.

RSMC ‘absolutely’ vital to Canada Post operations

William Johnson, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers local 820 in Regina, said there are about 70 RSMCs locally and they “absolutely” play a vital role.

Johnson said RSMCs often find it unfair to come in and work on weekends because the pay simply isn’t worth their time.

“A RSMC is going to be asked to come in on a Sunday and deliver parcels, and they get one dollar per parcel they delivered,” he said. “They find it unfair to come in for a dollar a parcel.”

Johnson said RSMC contracts dictate they have to get permission to earn overtime pay. He said the employer refuses to pay overtime and essentially pressures employees into working extra hours to get packages delivered.

He said it’s “fundamentally unfair” for RSMCs, who work side-by-side with letter carriers like himself, to be paid differently.

“We do the same work, we just do it in different areas,” Johnson said.

Pay equity matter to be settled ‘as quickly as possible’: Canada Post

McMillan said the union hopes to address the disparity through contract negotiations.

“One of the things that we’re asking for is [RSMCs] to be paid the same way as letter carriers,” she said. “We just want our pay equity.”

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Canada Post said an arbitrator ruled on the pay equity matter in September of this year.

“As a result, rural and suburban mail carriers will receive 25 per cent higher pay and an alignment of benefits,” the statement read.

Canada Post said it was working with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to implement the pay and benefit changes as soon as possible.

Gizem, however, said she is skeptical any change will come in a timely manner.

“We’re not even going to see a penny of that until September of next year,” Gizem said. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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