Business briefs – June 7

The union representing 6,800 Air Canada flight attendants has asked for a federal conciliator to assist in contract negotiations with the airline.

Union representing flight attendants ask for conciliator

OTTAWA — The union representing 6,800 Air Canada flight attendants has asked for a federal conciliator to assist in contract negotiations with the airline. The Canadian Union of Public Employees says it filed its request with the Federal Mediations and Conciliation Services after reaching an impasse with management on several key issues. The collective agreement between the flight attendants and Air Canada expired last December. Negotiations for a new contract have been underway since April 6 but so far a settlement has eluded the parties.

Plaintiff in class action against scotiabank calls for prompt trip to court

TORONTO — Scotiabank will ask Ontario’s highest court to deny class-action status to a lawsuit in one of the largest employment-related cases ever undertaken in Canada. A three-judge panel of Ontario’s divisional court decided Friday to deny Scotiabank’s original appeal, which was launched in February on behalf of about 5,000 people. A bank spokeswoman says the divisional court’s ruling is disappointing and Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) will ask the Ontario Court of Appeal to hear the case.

The lead plaintiff in the case, who began her class action in 2007, says she’s determined to press ahead and looks forward to getting the case to trial.

With a class action, a suit filed by one or more plaintiffs can be used to seek compensation for them and any other people who fit the criteria.

Class actions provide a way to spread the costs of litigation over a larger number of people, who also stand to receive a portion of any compensation.

Scotiabank loses CDs with customer’s banking information

TORONTO — Scotiabank says it will use digital locks on data discs after three CDs containing unencrypted information, such as customer social insurance and account numbers, were lost in its internal mail system.

The bank said a “small percentage” of customers are affected, but it is warning clients as a precaution so they can monitor accounts for any fraudulent activity.

The Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS) says the loss is a rare incident and believes its clients are not at risk because the CDs are lost internally. It said it has changed its processes so future CDs will be encrypted, which means data will be scrambled unless a user has the correct computer key to open it.

“Scotiabank has very strict processes and procedures in place to protect customer privacy and confidentiality. This is a responsibility we take very seriously,” the bank said in a statement.

The information on the discs was not encrypted, and was set to be transferred to the Canada Revenue Agency as part of the bank’s requirements to report the information.

The data included names, mailing addresses, social insurance numbers, account types, and numbers for registered accounts such as RRSPs, RESPs and RRIFs. It does not include savings or chequing account numbers, any account balances or employment information.

Building permits drop in April after strong March: StatsCan

OTTAWA — Construction activity is expected to remain healthy this summer even after the value of building permits fell 21 per cent in April as the decline followed a particularly strong March, economists say.

Statistics Canada reported Monday that building permits fell to $5.3 billion after increases in February and March on a slide was in both the non-residential and residential sectors.

Economists had expected an average seven per cent drop.

The disappointing April figures followed a March that saw municipalities issue $6.8 billion in building permits, the highest figure since June 2007.

The value of non-residential permits fell 33.2 per cent to $1.9 billion in April after permits were issued for a number of big projects in March. Residential permits came in at $3.5 billion, down 12.6 per cent.