SW Ontario lagging behind in job creation, income growth, warns economist


city_scope_logo-cmykA sobering report released this week that brings into perspective the impact manufacturing’s decline has had on southwestern Ontario’s median household income through 2015 (the last year of available census data).
The report’s author Ben Eisen, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute, notes Windsor falls from 10th highest median household income to 25th while London falls from 15th to 27th (out of 36 Canadian metropolitan centres).
St. Thomas is included in the London Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) and so the report has important local relevance.
Eisen’s work covers the period between 2005 and 2015 and so it is a look back in time and the next census in 2021 may give a clearer picture of where we are today.

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The stories behind the homelessness stories


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Following a longer than he would have liked winter hiatus, homeless advocate Jason McComb is ready to pick them up and lay them down as he resumes his cross-Canada trek in aid of the homeless.
Long before the sun breaks through on June 1, Jason will be on the road to Tillsonburg and on to Brantford, Hamilton, Oshawa and then north to Orillia for a musical interlude with Matchbox 20 front man Rob Thomas, who is performing a solo gig at Casino Rama on June 11.
Thomas has been a positive influence in Jason’s life and the promise of a ticket waiting at the door was enough to warrant tweaking his route to accommodate this side trip.
“Through his band and through his music he has gotten me through so much,” Jason advises. “He’s had a tough life.” Continue reading

The Horton Farmers Market is a wonderful success story – now let’s build on that momentum


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?
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‘Time to sweep aside featherbedding,’ says Bob McCaig


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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.

Bob McCaig


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.

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Thoughts on the potential for economic development between St. Thomas and First Nations of Ontario


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.
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Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman reports on trade mission to Japan


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.
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What has gone so wrong in Canada for working people?


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
jobs.
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End of the line for Navistar’s Chatham plant


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.
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Navistar Makes No Move to Re-Open Plant, Governments Must Step in, CAW says


TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ – Following months of uncertainty, the bargaining committees from CAW Local 35 and CAW Local 127 met with senior levels of management from Navistar Thursday in Windsor, Ontario. The meeting was requested by the union, as part of its ongoing attempt to have Navistar reopen the Chatham truck facility. The corporation has been demanding massive concessions, significantly reducing the production and jobs at the facility. This facility once employed over 2000 workers and now risks being reduced to less than 100 workers. The corporation maintains that the plant will only be used for cab production, with no trim or paint facilities being utilized. To add insult to injury, the popular Class 8 Prostar and Lonestar which were engineered and built in Chatham will no longer be built there. These were premium trucks that had top quality and were well received by consumers.
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