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At Manitoba Hydro, hiring more women into trades-related careers is a recruitment strategy.

As the Canadian work force ages, foosball is losing ground to pension programs, perhaps reflecting our evolving need for more stability in challenging economic times.

Regardless of cost-cutting trends elsewhere, Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013 continue to provide staff with generous benefits designed to attract and retain the nation's best talent for the long term.

Richard Yerema, managing editor for Canada's Top 100 Employers, notes an increase in the overall number of applicants, particularly from the West representing an increasing diversity of employers including oil and gas and resources but also high technology, media, transportation and the public sector.

"This simply represents the fact that the project doesn't exist in a vacuum and that the list corresponds to the reality on the ground," Mr. Yerema says. "The West is doing well and the East has slowed in terms of employment growth."

While new questions on support for IVF treatment and special interest competitions have been added, the criteria used for judging by Mediacorp Canada's editors remains much the same.

They focus on: physical workplace; work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development and community involvement.