CEO Blog

Category Archives: Government

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to government.

Independent Contractor or Employee (Canada)

Henry Ford quote about business ownershipBefore I get into this blog post I will post a disclaimer … I am not an accountant or a lawyer, so this article cannot be construed as “advice” from a professional.  I am a staffing company owner who has been in the business more than 20 years and have been very involved with this issue at an industry association level.

In Canada independent contractors are typically one person corporations that offer their services on a “just in time” basis to many organisations.  That flexibility is good for our economy.  Some (small) percentage of those independent contractors will go on to create bigger companies, and that is also good for our economy.

I have written previously about the importance of independent contractors to Canada’s economy …  Independent Contractor Myths and Realities in Canada.

The Federal and Provincial governments have a problem with independent contractors because they often believe they are “employees of a different type” and thus are avoiding paying taxes, EHT, CPP, EI etc.   Obviously in such a climate it is prudent to do everything possible to be “onside”.

“A large percentage of small businesses are actually just ways for wealthier Canadians to save on their taxes …” Justin Trudeau

If you are an independent contractor it is imperative that you operate like a business … here are just three reasons.

  1.  The CRA look at independent contractors across a lot of different industries and are constantly evaluating whether they are true businesses.  If you are deemed to be (a) an employee (worst case) or (b) a dependent contractor (bad news) or  (c) operating on a Personal Services contract (also bad news) the tax implications are significant.
  2. The Ontario Government are likely to pass bill 148 with its effect starting in January 2018.  Some aspects of the bill address  independent contractors including  an increase in fines associated with misclassification.  They are also hiring 175 new employment standards officers, who will be focused on the new Bill 148 changes.
  3. The Federal Government recently tabled tax changes for small business, because they believe some people incorporate to avoid taxes.  You do not want that scrutiny.

Government continues its assault on the independent contractor, so independent contractors need to clearly demonstrate that they are a legitimate business.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”  Peter Drucker

Here are some common sense (although not always common) suggestions:

  • Incorporate.  Yes, you can operate as a sole proprietor … BUT as a sole proprietor your agency must deduct CPP and EI, and there is even some debate about EHT.  This makes you look like an employee …  you do NOT want to look like an employee.  If you are serious about being a business then incorporate. PS More and more agencies are refusing to work with sole proprietors.
  • Get advisers … an accountant (who TRULY understands the nuances of this space … most don’t) also get a lawyer.  Sure its OK to do your own books, but still engage these professionals.
  • Have your own website.  What other business do you know that does not have a website?  This is just basic stuff.  You MUST operate like a business.  Your own domain would be a good idea.
  • Have business cards.  Even in the digital age I know of no service business that operates without business cards.  Considering the cost, why would you NOT get them.
  • Have a separate business phone number.
  • Have business insurance.  This is good business sense, and is the right thing to do professionally.  It is available at a reasonable rate and is a business expense … so just do it.
  • Advertise your services … on your website, and perhaps job boards.
  • Participate in industry associations such as AQIII or APCC.
  • Invest in yourself.  Take courses on your own time, learn new skills, spend some of those revenues on increasing the capability of your company (you).
  • Do NOT OPERATE like an employee.  If you are operating on a client site then invariably there will be employees there, with similar skills to you.  You should try to differentiate yourself, to avoid the appearance of being an employee.  Some ideas (and there are plenty more)
    • If you attend a company social, pay your own way;
    • If you take any training through the client, pay for it;
    • Do NOT adopt the rigid 9 to 5 mentality … you are a business, do what it takes.  Leave after the employees and if possible arrive before them.
    • Never get involved in company politics, part of being an independent contractor is remaining independent.
    • Do not get paid like an employee … every business I know gets paid monthly or based on milestone deliverables.  Getting paid every two weeks (or twice monthly) just looks too much like an employee.
  • Have your own tools. This is a big indicator in the CRA tests but most (maybe ALL) IT contractors cannot take their own tools to work, typically for security concerns.  However you should have your own tools for marketing purposes, writing proposals, accounting purposes, training purposes, tracking expenses etc.  Any demonstration that you have your own tools helps.
  • Take on risk.  This is another key indicator for CRA.  Sometimes you may get an opportunity to bill Statement of Work activities rather than time and materials, but most often you are paid an hourly rate.  You should accept contractual risk (non competes, monthly payment terms paid only on acceptance of work etc.).  You accept the risk of being responsible for your own future, training and your next contract.  Anything you can do to exhibit an entrepreneur’s mindset on risk will help.
  • Control. Where possible you should get terms removed from your contract that demonstrate a control over you, such as an employee would have.  Eg Hours of work, dress code, how you do your work etc.  This is a difficult one and end clients are often hard to convince, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Sole client. The longer you work at one site, in the same role, the more you begin to look like an employee.  Despite opinions, there are no hard and fast rules about how long is “safe” or pushing the limits.  You can be pretty sure that if your contract is going into years then it is likely to be scrutinised more closely.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be a contractor, it just makes it harder to justify.  Can you have other clients?  Perhaps a part time role supporting someone else?   If it is a long term contract could you change the terms to a higher risk based reward such as a deliverables based contract?  You could offer your services to charities and give them “in kind” donations of your time.
  • Educate yourself. Do not fall into the trap of reading the US articles, their laws are very different than ours.  Understand how the various levels of Canadian government look at independent contractors.  Be CLEAR about ALL of the things that differentiate you from an employee … hopefully most of the ideas here, but also no pension, no sick days, no vacation.  You accept the risk of no pay if you are not working.
  • Have a Sideline. Many large companies were started by contractors, or a group of contractors.   That is one of the values to the Canadian economy that contractors bring.  Your “sideline” could be Canada’s next big company … it could be anything such as an app, a software or hardware product, a services company.  Have a business plan, work with partners, explore the potential.  It could grow from an interesting hobby into something significant.

All of these ideas are just normal practice for a business, so the overriding consideration for anyone operating as an independent contractor is Think and Operate like a business.

To someone starting out this might seem a little onerous, but really none of these are BIG things and they go some way to telling the world that you truly are an independent business.

As already indicated, these are my personal thoughts on this subject and cannot be viewed as professional advice.

 

The following are some links that might be useful:

Government of Canada CPP & EI Explained (IT Consultants)

AQIII (Quebec Association of IT Freelancers)

APCC (Association of Professional Canadian Consultants)

SMB Statistics in Canada

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Canada’s Job Market – Third Quarter 2017

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionThe unemployment rate at the end September was 6.2%, an improvement from the 6.5% unemployment rate at the end of June.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 320,000 jobs (almost 289,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the third quarter it returned to the Q1 level just above 15,600, a gain of about 500 points.

picture of an oil rigThe oil patch continues to struggle, with the price of a barrel hovering in and around the $50 a barrel range.  The continued lack of support from the various levels of government has led to the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline.  This will mean (a) lost jobs, but also (b) reinforce a message to the investment community that Alberta oil is not a good investment.

The Canadian dollar has been relatively strong lately and in the third quarter ranged between 78c US and 82c US.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThere is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs, and over the third quarter averaged about 90,000 new jobs per month.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  As an example almost all of the jobs added in Canada in September (about 100,0000) can be attributed to public sector jobs.  Clearly the increased government spending is not a boon for the economy, but good for those looking for public sector jobs.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 114, which was up from 110 last quarter, and also 110 in Q3 last year.

Eagle logoHere at Eagle, we experienced an expected drop in demand over the Summer months, of about 10% from the second quarter however demand was up 10% over the same quarter in 2016.  There was a corresponding drop in people looking for work over the Summer months.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada continues to struggle, receiving little help from our Federal government and not helping themselves much at the provincial level.  The cancelling of the Energy East pipeline was a tough blow for the region and optimism in the oil patch is low.  While the Conference Board had expected Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 I doubt we will see that happen.  The BC economy continues to do well despite the concerns about legislation to curb foreign investment in real estate.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but despite significant Federal government hiring the unemployment rate in Ottawa has been a concern.  Quebec appears to be enjoying a renaissance as its unemployment rate is now better than Ontario’s, in addition to having healthier finances.  They have been able to attract industries (such as large data centres) to help the economy and add jobs.  It doesn’t hurt that their hydro rates are very competitive as opposed to Ontario’s situation.  The Maritime Provinces don’t represent a great opportunity for the job seeker, however PEI and Nova Scotia are both showing signs of an improving economy.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

There are numerous good indicators for Canada’s economy and hence job seekers, but there are also some challenges on the horizon:

  • NAFTA re-negotiations may have a negative impact on our economy;
  • we don’t yet understand all the implications of the Energy East project being cancelled;
  • January in Ontario will see the introduction of Bill 148, a severe increase in minimum wage plus new labor laws that will hurt business and cost jobs;
  • January we will see the introduction of new carbon taxes in Ontario;
  • our Federal Government is introducing new tax changes affecting small business, possibly to help pay for their out of control spending;
  • at the same time that Canada is raising taxes, the US is encouraging small business through tax breaks, which may well cost Canada as some companies will be forced to go where they can make money.

If all of this goes ahead, then we will see a big impact on the job market.

Canada added 320,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  The BIG elephant in the room is whether the factors listed above will conspire to undermine our economy and create a government driven recession.

For job seekers there remain the bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, some possible impacts include immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies such as the NAFTA negotiations (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

——————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Canada’s Job Market – Second Quarter 2017

General Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.5%, an improvement over the 6.7% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 351,000 jobs (almost 250,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the second quarter it slipped about 400 points from 15,600 to around 15,200.

Oil canThe oil patch continues to struggle, and while the price of a barrel has been in and around the $50 a barrel range, it actually finished the second quarter down in the $45 range.  The foreign investment money that exited the Canadian oil patch is unlikely to return unless there is a significant shift in political support for this sector.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar had seemed to be settled around the 75c US level, but during Q2 edged up to 77c. (It should be noted that post Q2 an interest rate increase has driven the Canadian dollar even higher.  It remains to be seen whether the increased cost of borrowing will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.)

There is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 200,000 jobs a month over the last quarter.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people.  Under the current Liberal administration the Federal workforce has grown significantly, with about 150,000 employees.   All levels of government are dealing with the issue of retiring “boomers”, among the executive ranks in particular.   The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 110, which was unchanged from the first quarter.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that, the indication is a positive one.

Here at Eagle, we experienced consistent demand from our clients in the the first six months of 2017.  This is a positive indicator given that demand represents a 25% increase in demand over the fourth quarter of 2016. Eagle did see a big increase in people looking for work in the first quarter (20%) and the second quarter saw another increase of 16%.  There could be many factors at play, but one that we are seeing is both an increased demand for contract talent and an increased interest in the gig economy by professionals.

More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada continues to be most impacted by the woes in the oil patch, but there are some positive indicators.  The oil patch has settled into its “new normal” and continues to employ a lot of people, albeit nowhere near the highs of the boom times.  The various levels of government are working hard to replace some of those jobs by attracting new industries, such as technology companies, offering educated and affordable workforces, especially compared to Silicon Valley and more affordable and yet attractive lifestyles. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017.  The BC housing market has been affected by recently introduced legislation to curb foreign investment and a minority government will mean less affective decision making and an uncertain economy.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but the unemployment rate in Ottawa rose steadily in the second quarter. Quebec leads the country in job gains, and have improved their unemployment rate to 6% and added 122,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

Summary:

Canada added 351,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  Forecasters are optimistic for the next twelve months, in fact the Bank of Canada just raised interest rates sparking a recovery for the Canadian dollar.  If we can keep new legislation (CASL at the Federal level, and Bill 148 in Ontario would be just two examples) from hurting job growth then we should enjoy a period of growth.

For job seekers there are bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large work-forces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the second quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

——————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Canada’s Job Market First Quarter 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 250,000 jobs a month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand in the trades, a growth in demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada), trade agreements (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and be willing to go where the work is.  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Business Relationships

Trust Sales quote from Zig ZiglarBusiness relationships are just like any other relationships … they need to be nurtured, they need investment and they need a level of commitment.

Clients WILL buy from people they trust, and you do not achieve trust without establishing some kind of relationship.

In almost any business relationship there will come times of stress … where the parties need to fix something, or renegotiate something or have tough conversations.  These situations are always easier if there is a good relationship and a level of trust.

Salespeople and business owners work hard to develop these business relationships and clients invest their time and energy in them too.  There are many ways that they evolve and grow, but here are some ideas:

  1.  Make promises and always deliver (over deliver if at all possible).  This does not have to be hard it could be as simple as committing to send an interesting article by the weekend and doing it the minute you get back to your desk (but never forgetting to send it)!
  2. Meet face to face.  The phone is good, email is a good way to share some stuff but face to face is how you get to know people and they get to know you.
  3. Be truly interested in the other person.
  4. Find ways to bring additional value.  Share interesting articles, data, information, market knowledge for example.
  5. Have regular contact … without wasting anyone’s time.  (Touching base is a lazy approach … you should have a valid business reason, and ideally an agenda for a to meeting!)
  6. Never waste their time.
  7. Be positive … keep your own negatives to yourself!
  8. Listen more than you talk.
  9. All large client organisations have valid governance concerns about undue influence of their buyers, so be mindful of these.
  10. It always helps a relationship to have some meetings under more informal settings.  Breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks after work or even a game of golf (even though I hate golf) can help people get to know each other better.  (Be mindful of #9 above).

Every business relationship will hit a bump in the road at some point, and if you don’t have a relationship built on trust and credibility, beyond the terms of a contract then that bump may feel like a mountain!

“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.”  Robin Sharma

Invest in those business relationships!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Canada’s Job Market @ Year End 2016

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations: 

From a jobs perspective 2016 finished much as it started, most markets were okay but not great and the oil and gas space was “hurting”.  The oil patch has been hurt not only by the low price of a barrel, but also by the political uncertainty introduced by both provincial and Federal governments that crushes any investment possibilities from private enterprises.  There has been some positive momentum associated with the upcoming Trump presidency, so we shall see how that plays out in the coming months and years.  The Canadian dollar continues to hover around the 75c US mark which makes it more expensive for imports, and Canada imports more than it exports.

The unemployment rate at the end of the year was 6.9%, a slight improvement over the 7% at the end of September, and even better than the 7.1% of this time last year.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 214,000 jobs although the majority of these were part time jobs.

TSXThe stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth over the last year, ending 2016 at around 15,300 points which was currently at around 15,000 points which was more than 200 points better than it ended last year.

picture of an oil rigAs already mentioned the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil settling at around $50 a barrel we are not likely to see the start of any major projects although there is some optimism that most of the “bleeding” is done.  Alberta will not attract much private sector investment in the current political climate, particularly when almost any other jurisdiction outside of Canada is more business friendly.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar finished 2016 at around 75c US, as opposed to the 70C US it was a year ago.  A weaker dollar is good for the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector, because finished goods exported with a weak dollar mean a better profit margin.  However importing raw materials becomes more expensive and generally Canada imports more than it exports so overall a weak Canadian dollar is not good for Canada.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  They take full advantage of technology which can mean a reduction is client facing staff as e-banking continues to grow and  even their technology projects have seen very careful hiring this year,

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs, but at a reduced rate of about 150,000 per month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

ConstructionThe construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).

Parliament building in OttawaThe three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of 2016 was 96, as opposed to 98 a year earlier.  While that appears to be a drop, it is in effect negligible because there were less work days in December 2016 than a year earlier.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 10% drop in demand from our clients in 2016 as opposed to 2015.  We also experienced a 4% increase in people looking for work.  This really tells the tale of the Canadian economy in 2016, there are less jobs and more people looking.   Eagle’s world is primarily in the technology space, and while we expect things to pick up in 2017 we expect to see skills shortages start to add to Canada’s economic problems.

 More Specifically:

cn tower The GTA is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  Not surprising given its boast as the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We anticipate things to pick up in 2017 and demand for skilled resources to increase substantially.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  We do expect a decent level of demand in the Federal government in 2017, with necessary projects requiring expertise and the steady flow (certainly more than a drip) of talent retiring.  Quebec is enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in some time, and Montreal remains the hub of that activity.  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016, and Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government.  The outlook for Alberta in 2017 is better, but not exciting.  The other provinces should see a reasonable increase in jobs.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

 Summary:

The last year was a tough one in the Canadian economy and we will continue to face challenges into 2017, with carbon taxes, a struggling oil patch, a resurgent but protectionist US economy under Donald Trump and a Federal government more interested in the environment, foreign aid, being recognised on the world stage and anything other than creating a business friendly atmosphere in Canada.

On the plus side for job seekers, there will be growth opportunities afforded by a growing number of retirees requiring replacement, and some sectors that will grow … some which we believe will be the telecommunications, technology, construction, government and the financial sector.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the final quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Avoid Unintended Consequences

Drucker quote about decision makingHow many times do we see a negative impact from seemingly harmless or well-intentioned actions?

We see it from governments who implement well-intentioned legislation only to cause negative affects in the “real world”.    As just one small example, attempts to help the “underdog” will often increase costs to business owners, and for small business owners the impact will be felt in lost jobs.

We see it from companies who will have a knee-jerk reaction to a “one off” situation and bring in rules that have negative consequences.  If you implement restrictive policies because of one bad experience then you create a less welcoming environment and that will be felt when trying to compete for talent with companies that are not so restrictive.

We all do it at a personal level.  We do or say things that inadvertently cause ripples.  It might be social niceties such as inviting some people to the party and inadvertently upsetting others, or by complimenting one friend and another takes offense.

If you want to avoid unintended consequences, then you need to think “bigger picture”, and you need to be sensitive to your actions.

Some things you might consider:

  1.  Don’t make knee jerk decisions.  Take the emotion out of your decisions and let some time pass before you “act”.
  2. Get input.  Consider other people’s perspectives.
  3. Think ahead.  Try to anticipate what else you should consider;  who else you should consider and how else your decision might have impact.
  4. Have a plan that includes (a) the objective you want to achieve, (b) a plan to get to that objective and (c) any possible outcomes from your plan.

It is possible that the decision is more important than any repercussions, but in that case the consequences are not unintended … they are just consequences!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  Yogi Berra

Obviously we can’t anticipate everything, but TOO often we don’t even try … make an effort, thoughtfulness is always appreciated!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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The Destructive Power of Bad News!

Henry Ford quote .. our belief determines the outcome“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” Howard Zinn

The recession of 2008 was a clear example of how bad news feeds on itself.  Not a day went by without the “chicken littles” of the world calling for Armageddon!  Amazingly enough the more they talked about it the lower confidence fell and sure enough we had one of the worst recessions on record.

The naysayers did not create the recession … but they sure as heck hurt the speed of recovery.  The economy is built on confidence and killed by fear … we need to listen to the glass half full people!

Fast forward just a few years and here we go again with the doom and gloom merchants crying in their beer!

Well as I see it the oil patch is just one sector … and it too will recover in time.  It will also be more efficient and more able to withstand the tough times.  A weak Canadian currency is bad for some, but good for others.  The unemployment rate in Canada is not awful.  There are still lots of jobs being advertised.  The boomers are starting to retire in droves and we have a different set of issues caused by “skill shortages” and knowledge loss to contend with … it’s not all bad news from a jobs perspective.

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.”  Douglas Adams

The people making all these “doom and gloom” predictions will all do just fine … they always do.  Some of them do better when the economy suffers because they profit from the disruption.

Message to Business Owners … ADD JOBS!

It doesn’t matter whether I like our Wynn Liberal Government, our Trudeau Federal Government or Notley’s NDP government … my job as an employer is to find ways to keep my business healthy and to create jobs.  I operate a National business and need to work within the parameters that exist … I’m very focused on what I need to do!  I will make a conscious effort to stop knocking those governments because it is not helping and they need to be aligned with me in fixing things!  If every business owner were to add just a couple of jobs we would be in decent shape … what do we need in order for that to happen?  A few dollars less profit?  Governments that are going to stop adding costs?  Lets do this!

“In the business world bad news is usually good news for somebody else.”  James Surowiecki

Message to Governments … LESS POLITICS MORE COOPERATION

Those governments I mentioned, together with all the other governments here in Canada (at all levels), need to be focused on helping add private sector jobs … because they need a healthy tax base in order to meet their various agendas.  Find ways to help business, not throw up road blocks.  Find ways to create a partnership.  Avoid a single minded focus on your election platform … because right now, we can’t afford your dreams!  Governments need to be very focused on improving TRUST and CONFIDENCE.  We need leadership NOT politics.

Message to Individuals … OWN YOUR SITUATION

If I am an individual caught in this downturn and without a job, I have two options … I can cry “woe is me” and wait for “someone” to fix things; or (b) I can do whatever it takes to get work.  That might mean moving to where the jobs are; it might mean taking different work or a lesser pay; it might mean creating my own job; or it might mean finding the opportunities that ARE there and making sure that I am the one who gets the job.

If you have a job, then do it well … every day when you go to work be very focused on doing the best job that you can.  Protect your job, while helping your company through a tough time.

Message to Doom and Gloom Merchants … SHUT UP!

You really don’t need to fan the flames.  Try to be more balanced in your reporting.  People really do want to hear ideas for positive change … not just the constant whining about what that government did or did not do; or the “opinions” about what MIGHT happen!

To everyone … THE SKY IS NOT FALLING!

If your sources of news are “Doom and Gloom” merchants find other sources.  Ignore the “Chicken Littles” of the world.

Focus on the positives and let’s not talk ourselves into another recession!

MY GLASS is half full!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————


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Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!

SMB Statistics in CanadaFrom time to time governments will decide that they need to crack down on independent contractors.  Typically the suggestion is that independent contractors are paying less in taxes than they should, or that they are really employees.  During the run up to the recent federal election Justin Trudeau made some references to small business owners avoiding taxes, and hopefully he does some research before he buys into a rhetoric that believes every worker should be an employee of a large entity.

Here are some things you might not have known about independent contractors in the professional space in Canada .  It is very important to remember that Canadian laws are different than US laws., because too often I see “experts” weighing in with advice, based on their US experience.

  1. Taxation … contractors pay the same amount in taxes as everyone else.

An independent contractor in Canada is typically a one person corporation.  Her corporation gets paid for the work done and the contractor either (a) takes a dividend from the corporation as opposed to a salary, or (b) pays themselves a salary.  The dividend route only provide a small tax advantage (by way of deferring taxes) IF she leaves some of the earnings in the company.  If, like 99% of Canadians she spends what she earns then she pays pretty much the same amount of tax as everyone else.  If she doesn’t spend every penny then she might defer tax … but she still pays it!

  1. Expenses … yes the independent contractor gets to write off SOME business expenses.

These are typically minimal, AND if they worked for “big company” then it would be “big company” writing off the expenses.  So, the write offs would have occurred anyway. These are the expenses associated with taking responsibility for a business … marketing, technology, professional services and other necessary business costs.  All of these costs go back into our economy supporting other businesses. and creating jobs.

  1. Risk … independent contractors accept some risks, like any business.

An independent contractor is a business, and as such accepts some risks as it is a lifestyle they choose.  They have no guarantees of long term work they are responsible for finding every gig themselves, in strong or weak economies.  They can be let go at a moment’s notice, with no severance.  If their work is not accepted they don’t get paid.   They need to carry business insurance because they can be sued by their client.  They accept the risk of their and their family’s health, with no big company benefits.  They don’t get paid for time off, vacations, sick days or training time.

  1. Value to the economy … they are a big boon to Canada’s economy.

Having a flexible workforce is HUGE for all companies, and essential to many!  Special projects, seasonal demands or the ability to pilot new ideas without committing to long term employment contracts are essential for these companies.  Having rare expertise available to many companies, rather than just one employer, is a big advantage to Canada’s economy and the average self-employed individual is very motivated to be productive … their continued contract depends on it.

It is worth noting that some percentage of independent contractors have aspirations for a bigger corporate entity.  They might be developing a product on the side, or they might band together with a few others to create a company.  There are many success stories where one or a few contractors formed a company that became a household name.  Some names that come to mind might include CGI, Calian and Cognos but I’m sure there are many.  Entrepreneurs will often start small and go on to bigger things.

  1. The New Way of Work … this is a growing trend in society today

Whether to become self-employed has always been a personal choice.  It offers the individual more control over their career, the ability to earn a good income without having to move into management when they are more interested in a specialised career.  It allows for freedom to take time off for whatever reason.  These people choose to manage their own retirement plans.  They have to find their own benefits and accept the responsibility of  business ownership.

I guess Ronald Reagan might have been right when he said, “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

It would be my wish that all elected officials understand the realities of employment today and understand the value of these small business owners.  These are valuable contributors to Canada’s economy and messing with that is not going to help anyone!  It certainly won’t put more tax dollars into the coffers!

“Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others. ”  Ayn Rand

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Voting Day in Canada

Election 2015Here are 10 reasons why YOU need to get out and vote:

  1. This is a privilege of our democracy that people in other parts of the world would love to have;
  2. This is a privilege of our democracy that our parents and grandparents fought and died to preserve;
  3. This is your chance to influence the government that affects you;
  4. If you are reading this then likely you are intelligent, we NEED intelligent people voting;
  5. If the wrong people are elected they might spend YOUR money unwisely;
  6. The wrong people elected might represent YOU in a way you do not want to be represented;
  7. Voter turnout in Canada is generally low  … don’t let a few voters decide who will govern;
  8. Some people don’t like what the elected government have done, for them it will be important to vote for change;
  9. Some people are concerned that a change will not be in Canada’s best interests and for them it will be important to vote the current administration back;
  10. If you want to set an example for the future generations, then demonstrate that democracy is a good thing by voting.

There are probably 100 good reasons to vote, but hopefully the 10 mentioned make you think.

Understand the issues and don’t get caught up in the rhetoric.

Understand what the parties really offer.

Vote with your head, and be a part of Canada’s democratic process.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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