The following guest editorial is from Bruce Stewart of Troy Media. The original version can be found here
A community guide to creating jobs . . . all it takes is one old building of a reasonable size with a number of merchants to share the space
Shelley Holmes, chairwoman of the board for the St. Thomas Horton Farmers’ Market polishes up their sandwhich board for the season opening of the market this Saturday at 8 a.m. until 12 noon. The market operates every Saturday until the end of October.
TORONTO, ON – “Where are the jobs?” That’s a comment you can hear over coffee from one end of Canada to the other. We look at our children and wonder where they’ll work. We look at those of us forced into early retirement because of closures and layoffs and wonder the same for ourselves.
A little creativity is all that’s required, and we’ll have lots of work for everyone.
Major employers are nice to have: it’s why town and city councils constantly vote to provide incentives to attract them. The trouble is that major employers don’t have the same commitment to the community and its future as local employers do. So how do we make more local opportunity?
He’s never one to shy away from controversy and if that has ever been in doubt, then the following comments passed along to us from St. Thomas entrepreneur Bob McCaig should spark lively debate.
His observations are culled from a letter sent to Randy Hillier, Conservative MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, in which McCaig praises Ontario PC’s “for having the guts to openly discuss major labour reform in Ontario.”
In a nutshell, McCaig says the time has come to end the union free ride at the expense of taxpayers.
I warned you feathers would be ruffled.
McCaig opens by observing: “Here in St. Thomas where I live, we have witnessed the careful dismantling of 99% of our industrial base. It would be convenient to blame organized labour, particularly the CAW, for the collapse of our manufacturing base, but it would be unfair to blame them alone.
The following was forwarded to City Scope by St. Thomas resident Bev Walpole and illustrates the “outside-of-the-box” thinking so sorely lacking today. It’s a case of addressing a large-scale national issue with a made-in-St.Thomas solution.Please take a few moments to read Bev’s paper and feel free to comment. This is certainly far removed from the initiatives currently being floated by local politicians and business development groups . . .
From 1978-1985 I was a public health inspector working for the federal department then known as Health and Welfare Canada, Medical Services Branch. My duties included advising Inuit and First Nations communities about sanitation and environmental issues. My work took me throughout the Northwest Territories, part of what is now Nunavut, Northern Saskatchewan and the province of Manitoba. During those years I encountered problems in those communities such as inadequate housing, inadequate and improper disposal of sewage, unsafe water supplies and the myriad of social issues endured by the citizens of those communities.
Throughout those years, I did my best to advocate for more and better housing, clean, safe water supplies and safe disposal of sewage and household wastes. I approached my own department as well as the Department of Indian affairs on behalf of the communities. I encouraged the leaders of the community to work towards improvement of conditions on their reserves and villages. The response from the community leaders was to ask where the money would come from to improve their situation. The Federal government departments for whom I worked and to whom I advocated on behalf of the communities responded with excuses such as “there is no money; resources are limited; and they’ll only wreck it anyway.” It was frustrating to visit these isolated communities, each time reporting on conditions and submitting recommendations for improvement and realizing that probably nothing would be done to make the situation better. I recall mentioning to a friend that if the temperature was to increase in the northern communities, disease would spread like wildfire because of the improper disposal of human waste, and the consumption of untreated or improperly treated water supplies.
St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
A Member of the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA)
SOMA Trade Mission to Japan – November, 2011
The Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance (SOMA), http://www.somasite.com, is a partnership of seven Southwestern Ontario communities grown out of natural economic ties. The members of SOMA include St. Thomas, Stratford, St. Marys, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and Aylmer. With the sole mandate of marketing and promoting the region as a prime location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), SOMA’s objectives are clear – to generate investment and provide employment opportunities for its member municipalities.
By Ken Georgetti
President – Canadian Labour Congress
There was a time in Canada – not that very long ago – when a working person could expect
to have a family-supporting job throughout their life.
For an honest day’s labour, a worker could raise their kids, buy a house, pay off the mortgage,take vacations, have weekends off, help send the kids through college and retire with a modest but liveable pension.
Your job was relatively secure and the employer showed loyalty for good work. And employers
benefited too, because working families had the income to buy their goods and services.
Wherever and at whatever occupation you worked, these were common features for most
The end has finally come.
Nearly a decade after it was first announced Chatham’s Navistar plant would close, it has become a reality.
The final death knell came Tuesday — more than two years after the Richmond Street truck assembly facility has sat idled — when Navistar International Corporation issued a news release announcing its plans to close the plant.
The company blamed the inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union as the reason operations were halted since June of 2009.
However, the union has continually stated it couldn’t get the company to the bargaining table.
CAW Local 127 president Aaron Neaves said, “it’s hard to negotiate, quite frankly, with yourself.”
Read the full story here
It’s another body shot to southwestern Ontario, the province’s manufacturing engine that has been decimated over the past couple of years with the loss of several thousand jobs alone in St. Thomas/ Elgin – which is bracing for the closure of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant this fall.
The announced closure of Navistar International Truck’s Chatham facility today is a devastating blow to the workers, their families and the entire community, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
“Despite our relentless efforts since 2009 to reopen the idled facility and get our members back to work, Navistar has remained rigid and is now moving ahead with plans to shutter the plant,” Lewenza said, following the company’s formal announcement.
Talk about a Mexican stand-off — The CAW wants the Navistar plant in Chatham back up and running, with its members back on the assembly line in numbers; the municipality wants the plant operational, even if it’s not pumping out trucks; and the company wants to run a pared-down operation with one-20th of the workforce that once worked there.
Through it all, 5,000 heavy-duty trucks recently ordered by J.B. Hunt Transportation Services Inc. will likely be built in Mexico because the Chatham facility is idled.
Talk about a mess.
About 150 people marched through Chatham Monday and into council chambers to seek help from council. They want to see pressure on the provincial and federal governments to get involved to help entice Navistar get the plant running again, and give people their jobs back.
Council will let the senior governments, as well as the company and the union, know how important it is for Chatham-Kent to have the truck plant operational once more.
The Navistar assembly plant in Chatham, which received about $62 million in taxpayers’ money to stay open, has hit the one-year mark without making a heavy truck.
The plant reached the dubious anniversary for non-production today as more workers drift away and their union renews efforts for a reopening.
“It’s sombre,” said Aaron Neaves, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 127, about the mood of employees. “But it’s still somewhat cautiously optimistic.”
Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant
The economic recovery is leaving workers behind, while others are toiling in “survivor” jobs with low pay and little security, states a report released Monday by the Canadian Auto Workers union.
The study, called the Workers Adjustment Tracking Project, followed a group of laid-off workers in three communities — Kitchener, Toronto and Brampton — for one year and concludes they’re struggling to find work.