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 recent merger of Ascent/St. Thomas Energy and Entegrus Powerlines appears to have done little to unplug the city from controversial business decisions previously undertaken by the utility. As a case in point, on Monday (Oct. 15), the city was named in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. The City of St. Thomas, Ascent Renewables, Ascent Group Inc, Ascent Energy Services and a numbered company, 2154310 Ontario Inc., are being sued for general damages in the amount of $7,850,000 by a numbered company, 1787868, operating as Focus Group based in London. The statement of claim was filed at the Elgin County Courthouse. All of the defendants are ultimately owned and controlled by the city. According to the claim, nearly 20 years ago the city undertook an initiative identified as “Partners in Power.” Through its ownership and funding provided by St. Thomas Energy Inc., the city created a series of corporations to allow it to attempt to capitalize on growth opportunities and become more involved in the growing renewable energy sector. These corporations included Ascent Energy Services Inc. (formerly known as St. Thomas Energy Services Inc., STESI) and Ascent Group Inc. (formerly known as St. Thomas Holding Inc., STHI). These companies operated under the name Ascent Group, with all shares controlled by the city.
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. Continue reading →
As if you didn’t already know this, the return of Cliff Barwick to St. Thomas council is all about balance of power and, ultimately, the construction of a new police headquarters.
Prior to the departure of Sam Yusuf, you had two, equal-sized camps in the council chamber, not unlike the disfunctional council of 2003 in which deadlocked votes were the norm.
With Yusuf’s departure last month, the balance shifted and the ‘Barwick 4’ – as Mayor Heather Jackson and aldermen Gord Campbell, Tom Johnston and Dave Warden have now been christened – were able to out-muscle the remaining three members of council in filling the vacancy.
There is no doubt Barwick will bring experience and decorum to the horseshoe. And the deciding vote needed to proceed with a new facility to house the city’s police service. Continue reading →
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.