US Wage Increases Risk Making Inflation Permanent 

Canada and the United States experienced what the Bank of Canada and Federal Reserve call transitory inflation throughout 2021.

 Without getting into politics, it is clear that this inflation did not result from a stable, healthy, growing economy. It is not business as usual. Aspects of price pressure result from:

  • pandemic pressures,
  • changes within the economy, and
  • supply chain issues.

Price pressure also arises from public policy directions taken during trying times.

United States

Concurrent to this inflation environment, US employers faced labour movement, including resignations in their workforce. Employers experienced job vacancies and labour shortages. Displaced workers scanned job postings. Human resource practitioners and applicant tracking software disqualified them. The workforce movement and misalignment resulted in jobs without people and people without jobs. Absent any more strategic approaches, human resource and recruitment personnel engaged in a wage escalation, rather than focusing on increasing supply.

US human resource practitioners and employers adjusted their recruitment tactics. Sadly, they sought to overcome shortages by pulling primarily one leaver. That leaver was increasing wages. Upping wages did not increase the labour supply. They made the existing workforce more costly to employ.

Companies passed on the increased costs to customers. US employers’ wage increases, structurally increase prices. This wage inflation makes inflation in the US economy permanent.


For the most part, Canada is not following the same wage patterns as the US. This Canadian trend is a more subdued degree of inflation and very little labour market-wide wage escalation.

Disruption in Canada’s workforce is comparatively less and focused on specific sectors and certain jobs. True, CPI is also up, but it is decoupled from wage increases year over year.

Canadian wage increases do not track CPI. Whether those increases result from collective agreement settlements or through direct negotiations in non-union settings, wage and settlement data confirm this trend.

Permanent Inflation is Regressive

Governments, industry and policymakers should avoid permanent inflation if possible.

Some will say that wide-ranging wage increases are precisely the redistribution society needs. But it is not that simple. Those pursuing such a policy would do so with progressive intentions, resulting in a regressive outcome.

The permanent inflation brought about by broad wage increases will not affect all in society equally. Increased prices negatively affect those who spend most of their income. Furthermore, price increases significantly harm those who spend a higher portion of their income on essential expenses. Price increases are regressive.

A Comment About Wages

Employers should seek mechanisms to react to today’s inflation for those most impacted and smooth the increase over a two or three-year period of forecasted commitments. By forecasting multi-year increases and front-end loading those increases for lower-paid employees, employers can accomplish this.

There is justification for attraction, retention and equity purposes, to embrace adjustments in 2022 for pay bands lower than roughly $25/hour. An example would be committing to 6% over three years, with 3% in 2022, 2% in 2023, and 1% in 2024.


For pay bands over roughly $25/hour, CPI prompted adjustments are unnecessary. Employers should avoid tracking CPI for higher-paid employees. Current price increases do not result from a strong and growing economy and coincide with significantly increased business risk and vulnerability. An example for higher-earning employees would be committing to 3.5% over three years with 1.5% in 2022, 1% in 2023 and 1% in 2024.

The above are examples only and overlaid on this needs to be an analysis of each market factor, competition, job classification and sector. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

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Respectfully submitted by Workforce Delivery Inc.

(c) Workforce Delivery Inc. 2022

Alberta Labour Market and Employment Update, February 7, 2022

Alberta Employment and Labour Market Update

For the week of February 7, 2022


Employment Update: Canada lost 200,000 jobs in January. It is worth noting that Ontario and Quebec felt most of these losses after confronting the Omicron wave.

Meanwhile, Alberta employment increased by 7,000 jobs. However, full-time jobs receded by 3,900, and part-time employment increased by 10,900 positions.

The goods and manufacturing sector drove gains, with 18,400 positions filled. Service sector jobs (including education, professional and science services) declined by 11,300 positions month over month. Reductions experienced by the service sector would have been more significant were it not for gains in food, cultural, healthcare and accommodations roles.

These shifts have significant implications for Alberta employment. The trend displaces workers within specific skillsets and targets specific industries where much of the displacement occurs. Meanwhile, lower-paying jobs grow in service industries with fewer hours of work offered.

Alberta’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.2%, and labour market participation reduced to 69.6%.

Construction permit values increased by 14% in 2021 – inflated input costs drove 60% of that increase.

Alberta inflation year over year increased to 4.8%, matching the national CPI rate.

On the bargaining front, 2022 negotiated wage settlements in the private sector average 1.26%. 2023 average negotiated private sectors wage settlements are 1.12%. Public sector settlements average 0.8% in 2022, and Public sector settlements average in 2023. The recent nurses’ wage settlement of 4.25% over four years, ratified by 87% of their membership, reaffirms this pattern.

Province-wide average wage rates in Alberta employment contracted 1.2% month over month and are down 2% year over year.

All the above factors must be considered when considering compensation and collective agreement negotiations strategies.

Visit our homepage for more information on our labour relations and human resources firm, with offices in Edmonton, Alberta, and Prince Geroge and Victoria, British Columbia.

Respectfully submitted by Workforce Delivery Inc.

(c) Workforce Delivery Inc. 2022

Find Your Sacred During Times of Tension and Conflict Communication

Find Your Sacred During Times of Tension and Conflict Communication

Conflict Communication

Find your sacred during times of conflict and tension: As I sit across the bargaining table from a Union counterpart, he slams his fists against the table, calls me names not worth repeating and has choice words for the employer I represent. It is worth mentioning; the employer I represent is reasonable and fair. Fortunately, this is not an everyday experience. Most of us negotiators can have these difficult conversations while respecting the party opposite and the process. Whether out of shock or good judgment, our team does not react.  I suggest a caucus “to gather our thoughts,” but it is to create space to calm things down.

During our caucus, the first order of business would be convincing our team that the outburst required no direct response.

Sure, there are times to respond with passion and vigour, but that wasn’t one of them.

I would remind our team that perceived process wins and “I sure showed them moments” in front of committees did not amount to a win on the actual negotiation scorecard.

While strolling down the hallway to our caucus room, I inhaled deeply, muttered, “It’s not about me,” under my breath and reflected on what holds us together in these moments.

What keeps us from responding in kind, escalating the situation and causing conlfict communication breakdown and impasse?

For me, and it works regardless of whether others reciprocate the sentiment, I hold dear and sacred the negotiating table, the negotiation process, the parties involved, and the agreement reached. Holding on to this meaningfulness keeps me grounded and helps me not lose perspective during tension and hostility, independent of what happens during the exchange.

This is hardly a unique approach, but how did this approach become ingrained within me?

I was often troubled and confused about my place and direction in life throughout my teens and early twenties, exacerbated by several family calamities. Fortunately, at the time, I found a healthy distraction in the sport of wrestling. It meant a lot to me to become competent at the sport. I prepared obsessively and competed often.

What could Wrestling, or other Competitive Sports have to do with Conflict Communication?

Wrestling was somewhat nerve-racking for many in the sport, even the well-adjusted. A match is a one-on-one competition. Defeats were punctuated and often taken as personal failures unless they were in matches close on points. Due to my maladjustments, I was driven more by fear of losing than the joy of participation and chance of success, seemingly to a greater extent than most.

I worried too much and made the mistake of placing too much of my identity and self-worth on the line.

At tournaments, our team members would wear our wrestling singlets underneath our sweats and t-shirts during warm-ups. We would drop our shoulder straps and let them hang down outside our sweats during warm-ups before the match. In so doing, we showcased our slightly rebellious nature and style (if there was such a thing among us) while it identified us as wrestlers when walking the gym floor.

There was a rule; however, you never stepped onto the mat with your straps down when arriving for your match. Doing so would be a sign of disrespect for the sport, to your opponent, and the match itself.

I enjoyed the rule. It was one of those things we came to know and made us feel like we were in on a secret code of sorts. My self-centred fear would block access to the more fulsome meaning behind the rule at the time. After accumulating much greyer hair and distance from the sport, a deeper appreciation would surface years later.

A wrestling match is an intense situation that reveals our humanness, whether virtues or vices, courage or fear, or a mix of all above. It is a test or moment of truth, if you will, on whether you trained hard enough, had the physical and mental fitness, ate properly, and had the talent to succeed. It was a test of character, courage and integrity.

In the middle of all this intensity and human frailties and strengths, the mat was sacred.

We worked out on the mat, warmed up, stretched, cooled down, meditated, and even disinfected and cleaned the mat. We cared for and honoured the mat. The mat was the truthteller during the competition amidst a collision of human fortitude, weakness, and tension. Having the reverence to adopt rules that made the mat sacred was enough to remove us, ever so slightly from our self-centred fear,  to engage in the match on an honourable footing grounded in virtue with our fears muted.

For those transformations to happen, the rule/ritual needs to be in place, and we need to be present to the moment enough to honour the ritual and find meaning in it.

During our caucus, I see energy return to the faces of our team. They understand that the over-the-top outburst we witnessed did nothing to change our bargaining position. They understand that a non-reaction can, in fact, be more potent than a reaction in conflict communication. We walk back down the hall to the negotiation room. I take a few deep breaths during our stroll.

We enter the room and move to our seats. My eyes scan the surface of the table, with binders and papers strewn about, people leaning in, leaning back, arms open, arms crossed, elbows on the table elbows off the table, some eye contact, some eyes down, some eyes averting direct view, some nods and some shrugs. I exhale as my hands touch the surface before me and feel its texture. I gauge the table’s strength while seated. I notice the soles of my feet against the floor and feel my connection to the ground supporting me. I press my shoes to the floor, twist ever so slightly and feel the resulting stored energy. This is a precious moment. The negotiation table, process, and the agreement that we will eventually achieve; bind us to the truth and integrity that connect us. I remind myself that it is not about me. It is not about one person’s behaviour. With self-centred fear set aside, we get down to honouring the business at hand again. In this state, we are prepared to engage in conflict communication skillfully. 

Whatever we do, find the meaning, find the sacred, and learn to trust it.

That is one example of how some of us hold it together during conflict communication, tension, escalation, hostility and challenge.

Please visit our homepage for more information about our labour relations and human resources firm with offices in Edmonton, Alberta and Prince George and Victoria, British Columbia.

Respectfully submitted,

Sam Kemble

Chief Operating Officer

With People Inc.


2020 Initiative and Industrial Relations List for With People Inc.

Inventory of service activities delivered to clients in 2020, a report by Sam Kemble

A Word from the Executive Operations Officer 

We diversified our client base and service offerings during the year, added capacity, strengthened our balance sheet, and improved our processes. We supported organizations to meet extraordinary and complex challenges through various service offerings.

We are inspired by our client’s character, understanding and compassion towards their employees, union partners, and stakeholders, all during a year that could strain any relationship. We are grateful to continue serving industries and enterprises in Canada.

We wish all well as we approach the New Year.

Respectfully submitted,

Sam Kemble

Executive Operating Officer

Industrial Relations – Negotiations

This year in industrial relations, we bargained collectively with various Building Trade unions in Saskatchewan, CUPE in Edmonton, Unifor in Windsor, and UFCW in Edmonton. Also, we engaged in First Nation Mutual Benefits Agreement Negotiations West of Edmonton.

Industrial Relations

We continue to deepen our service and experience in general industrial relations through grievance administration, progressive discipline support, collective agreement interpretation, group lay-off and bumping-process support, coal-to-gas transition supports, recall list administration, temporary layoff supports, arbitration case management, contracting out, severance liability included in a temporary layoff context, right to refuse unsafe work in a COVID-19 context, pension plan and health benefits and insurance administration, and common employer and successor employer analysis.

Policy Development

We engaged in robust alcohol and drug policy development and costing models, participated in public policy creation and review through the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and developed several policies and practice documents in employment administration.


Ongoing training and workshops were developed and delivered, covering performance management, labour and employee relations, industrial relations, anti-harassment, bullying and violence. Work continues to migrate these modules to an online delivery format for broad and safe accessibility.



Significant time has been invested in enhancing our craft recruitment process, including modules for equity hiring and onboarding. We supported clients to develop a 48-hour rule hiring process to coincide with hiring hall scenarios. Cost models have been developed and simulated for craft sourcing, recruitment and onboarding for numerous multi-year projects. Our firm provided direct recruitment support for a plant south of Edmonton, a shutdown near Regina, road construction in Calgary, a pipeline in BC, a plant west of Edmonton, an institutional project in Terrace, recruitment for project administration in Northwest BC, a manufacturing facility south of Edmonton, several residential projects in the Greater Vancouver area, an infrastructure project in Lloydminster, and a roadbuilding project in the Greater Vancouver area.

We have adopted a positive bias into our recruitment process that prefers Indigenous, BIPOC and women candidates.


2020 brought the need to support clients with Covid-19 response measures, including service for essential service employees, implementing masking, hygiene, and physical distancing policies while restructuring work arrangements through staggering shifts and rotating site presence protocols. Various sick and other leave provisions required interpretation within a pandemic context. We also ensured rights and obligations to refuse unsafe work were adequately adhered to within a COVID-19 context. The pandemic also brought unique factors requiring a considered review of human rights and employment statute-protected accommodations, including leave and work accommodations. Many employers also found it necessary to navigate both the in and the out-of-work-from-home transitions.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be of service during such challenging and dynamic times. 

Industrial Relations – Operations / Execution

We engaged in front-end engineering and design (FEED) support for significant capital projects’ workforce delivery and the management component. We increased our forecasting and costing analysis capacity and conducted field execution productivity studies, developed project costing studies, and conducted labour posture comparison studies for construction and maintenance. We developed and supported wall-to-wall craft recruitment models. 

Justice and Social

We provided Jordan’s principal policy, advice, and advocacy within our social justice portfolio. We developed Treaty-based education agreements and policies.

Together with expert volunteers, we are about to release an employer mental health and wellness practice document.

We commenced service to the Board of the Colbourne Institute for Inclusive Leadership.

As a firm, we are taking an aggressive approach to positive bias recruiting to ameliorate disadvantaged and historically disadvantaged groups’ inequities.


With People Inc. Internal Capacity

In 2020, the firm increased recruitment, project controls, human resources and data science capacity.

We made investments in achieving a CPHR Certification, investigative report writing training, first aid training, and Principles of Health and Safety Management.

We afforded access to professional coaching to staff to increase career development and the strength of our team.

We created an operational contingency reserve for our operations to de-risk the potential for Covid-19 to impact our staffing levels. We also adopted an accounting policy to carry a fully funded severance liability on our balance sheet.

Throughout 2020 we continue to develop apps for release in 2021, including a force ranking app – 90% complete, a witness credibility app – 70% complete, a quantum of discipline review app – 70% complete. Also, we rebuilt our workforce applicant tracking and onboarding system – 70% complete.

In the ongoing interest of advancing awareness and education in human resources and employee and industrial relations, we maintained our educational Blog, Podcast, and Video Channel (hosted on YouTube).

Visit our homepage for more information about our human resources and industrial relations firm with offices in Edmonton, Alberta, Prince George and Victoria, British Columbia.