Could the former St. Thomas psychiatric hospital go from movie set to front-line player in the COVID-19 pandemic?


city_scope_logo-cmykLet’s pray it never reaches this stage – and to date, there is no indication St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital is about to be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients – however, the president of OPSEU is urging the province “to look for creative ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus.”
Warren ‘Smokey’ Thomas is urging the Doug Ford government to consider opening portions of previously shuttered regional mental health centres including the facility south of St. Thomas and the Rideau Regional Centre in Smiths Falls to ease a potential capacity crisis in the healthcare system.
In a media release issued last month, Thomas noted, “They can be used for currently hospitalized alternative care patients or as dedicated COVID-19 centres to relieve pressure on our hospitals. Let’s be proactive. Now is the time for action.”

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A campaign promise better left unfulfilled


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The Jan. 19 council meeting in which Part 1 of the 2015 capital budget was unanimously approved is undeniable validation a new home for the St. Thomas Police Service did not play a significant role in the 2014 municipal campaign.

Members of council were united in committing $13 million to construct a purpose-built structure immediately west of the Timken Centre. It should be noted Coun. Jeff Kohler was absent from the vote due to a personal family matter.

In a presentation that evening by The Ventin Group, given direction by council to undertake the tendering process, a Class B cost estimate of $10.6 million for construction of the single-storey building was tabled.

A far cry from projections of up to $30 million floated in some corners during the bitter October election campaign.
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The time Maurice told Daimler, you screwed up!


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The city lost a good one with the death Wednesday of Maurice Beaudry. The consummate community booster, Maurice loved to tell it like it is.
That was never more evident than his shoot-from-the-hip message for Daimler AG, the parent company preparing to close the Sterling Truck Plant up on South Edgeware in November, 2008.
In a conversation that month in City Scope, Maurice conveyed the following to the German multinational: you screwed up and why should St. Thomas ratepayers suffer?
And Maurice knew of what he spoke, because in his former position as manager of the Economic Development Corporation in the early 1990s, he played a leading role in convincing Freightliner to locate in St. Thomas.
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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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Future of Navistar’s Chatham plant remains precarious


Navistar International Corp. (NAV) said it could decide by summer whether it will need to restart an idled assembly plant in Canada.

Chairman and Chief Executive Daniel Ustian said the company has sufficient truck-making capacity at the moment, but might need the Chatham, Ont., plant if truck orders continue to trend higher through next year.

“Do we need another manufacturing facility? We don’t know the answer to that,” Ustian said Wednesday during a conference call with analysts. “At least in the short term, likely no. We’re not capacity-limited on making trucks.”

Full story here

Ottawa agrees with truck study request


The full article by Bob Boughner of the Chatham Daily News can be found here

Dave Van Kesteren’s request for a comprehensive study of Canada’s medium and heavy-duty truck manufacturing sector has been granted by Ottawa.

Industry Ministry Tony Clement announced the study Tuesday and called for a report to be delivered to government by spring.

Van Kesteren, MP for Chatham-Kent Essex, is “thrilled” his federal counterparts have acted on the recommendation he made earlier this year.
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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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