The first Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate forum for the June 2 provincial election was held this past Tuesday at the St. Thomas Public Library.
Hosted by the Elgin-St. Thomas Coalition to End Poverty, the two-hour session featured 10 questions from coalition members relating to poverty, homelessness, a living wage and mental health issues.
The three hopefuls present were PC candidate Rob Flack, Liberal candidate Heather Jackson and NDP candidate Andy Kroeker.
Moderated by the myFM news team featuring Kennedy Freeman and myself, the event kicked off what will be a hectic 28-day runup to the election itself.
Not present for the forum but who have now declared their candidacy are Matt Millar from the New Blue Party of Ontario, Brigitte Belton of the Ontario Party and Amanda Stark of the Green Party of Ontario.
With two area employers seeking more than 3,500 workers, at first glance, it would appear to be a rosy picture for job seekers in St. Thomas, Elgin county and neighbouring municipalities.
More so in light of two years of economic fallout related to the pandemic.
But there are other factors at play when you consider employers here and across the province are coping with a labour shortage.
We talked this week with Sean Dyke, CEO of St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation to ascertain the impact this will have on smaller firms already hunting for employees.
How easy will it be to find 2,000 or so employees for the Amazon fulfillment centre north of Talbotville plus 1,500 workers for the Maple Leaf Foods plant in south London, both opening next year?
“I do think they will be able to draw from a wide range of areas in the surrounding region,” suggested Dyke.
The city’s much-maligned transit system may very well become a greatly relied upon people mover if council endorses the recommendations of the soon-to-be-released Strategic Transit Plan. The proposed changes would involve route and schedule adjustments, the introduction of demand-responsive transit (DRT), the possibility of larger buses and electric bus technology and a pilot project to explore regional bus service. At Monday’s (Nov. 18) reference committee meeting, Brian Putre of Stantec Consulting and city engineer Justin Lawrence presented an overview of recommendations to members of city council. The plan, which is 95 per cent complete, drew favourable comments from all of council, including the stark observation from Coun. Joan Rymal that “any change is better than what we have now.”
While one St. Thomas councillor expressed concern over further investment in the city-owned Wellington Block, an architect working on the social services and housing campus at 230 Talbot Street is “over-the-top excited” about the possibilities inside the now-vacant structure. That’s according to city manager Wendell Graves, who updated council on the status of the former Wellington Public School at the April 15 reference committee meeting. And, one of those possibilities is converting each classroom into a residential unit, with the wainscotting and chalkboards in place so that some of them could be live/work spaces. Graves envisions a total of 19 units of various sizes on the three floors, with each having its own heating/air conditioning system. Not all units would be of the geared-to-income variety, with a number of them to be market driven.Continue reading →
At its May 22 meeting, council will be asked to approve an amendment to the Waste Diversion and Curbside Collection bylaw, with regards to used needles. According to a report from Michelle Shannon, the city’s waste management coordinator, in the past year there have been three incidents of needles found in curbside waste. Under the current bylaw, used needles are a designated hazardous waste under the Environmental Protection Act and are prohibited from being collected at the curb in the regular waste stream. Shannon stresses improperly disposed of needles and drug equipment pose a health hazard to the public, garbage collection staff, and municipal employees. Continue reading →
Last October, about two dozen staff at the Elgin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association stood outside the Centre Street office where they claimed to be working in an environment of fear, intimidation and anxiety. At that time, OPSEU staff representative Carol Warner asserted St. Thomas employees are consistently targeted and penalized by upper management for speaking up about health, safety and other workplace concerns. “It’s hideous, it’s a long-standing issue,” noted Warner. “I would say it’s a systemic issue. We have grievances in the docket that are, at a minimum, four or five years old. And the grievance program has flaws as well.” That information picket by members of OPSEU Local 133 and the allegations of workplace harassment resulted in the appointment of a third-party investigator by the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (SW LHIN) to report on CMHA Elgin’s compliance with its contractual agreement to the LHIN.Continue reading →
Time spent at a coroner’s inquest brings with it the emotion of family members and friends sitting through graphic testimony in the courtroom interspersed with details of protocol, procedures and guidelines that seem, at times, almost callous in nature. Such was the case this past week with the four-day inquest into the death of St. Thomas construction worker Brian Daniel, killed on July 2,1014 when he was struck by a pick-up truck on the Highway 3 bypass at the Burwell Road bridge. The recommendations – excellent in scope and most of them put forward by Daniel’s daughter Krista McColl – can be found here. But to better understand the context of the back-and-forth testimony heard throughout the inquest, here are snippets of what was presented to the five-person jury.Continue reading →
Brian Daniel was a flag man working on the Hwy. 3 bypass at the Burwell Road bridge when he was struck and killed just before noon on July 2, 2014. A four-day coroner’s inquest into his death concluded Feb. 8, 2018 at the Elgin County Courthouse in St. Thomas. Here are the 13 recommendations endorsed by the five-person jury.
1. Amend the definition of ‘highway’ to state: A general term that denotes a public way for the purposes of vehicular and pedestrian travel, including the area within a right of way. This includes King’s Highways, regional and county roads, and rural roads, municipal roads and streets with a normal posted regulatory speed that is over 60 km/h and is 90 km/h or less.Continue reading →
The latest cuts at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, which will see the lights turned out at the sleep clinic on Oct. 3, is nothing short of a bad dream for the former director of the lab.
Calling the decision to pull the plug on a clinic that saw 940 patients last year “misguided”, Dr. Charles George has sent an open letter to all members of the St. Thomas Elgin Medical Association urging them to make their concerns known.
A copy of Dr. George’s letter was sent our way anonymously in a plain, white envelope.
He notes the sleep clinic opened in the mid-1990s under the direction of Dr. Linda O’Fiara. When she departed for Montreal, Dr. George and Dr. Kathy Ferguson stepped in because, “at the time the clinic was generating revenue for the hospital and the patient volume was increasing.” Continue reading →