Skilled trades training, sustainable infrastructure investment and nuisance bears topped the list of issues discussed by Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Wednesday.
With more than $6 billion in capital investments planned for Greater Sudbury over the next few years, there will be more employment opportunities in construction, mining supply and service and health care than people to fill them, Matichuk said.
More than 1,200 jobs for skilled workers will be needed in Greater Sudbury the coming few years, more than will graduate from local schools. As a result, local employers are already starting to look outside the community – sometimes even outside the province or country – to fill these jobs.
Matichuk and Horwath agreed it’s time the provincial government studied its trades and apprenticeship programs to meet this growing need.
“Apprenticeship programs in Ontario were last looked at in the 1980s and it’s time the province looked at them again,” Matichuk said. “I know a lot of businesses would like to do more, because they’re on the front line of this issue, but they find too many road blocks.”
Matichuk suggested offering businesses tax incentives to train workers as a low-cost and effective way to meet the demand for skilled labour before the shortage becomes a road block to economic growth in communities like Greater Sudbury.
Matichuk and Horwath also agreed the province should do more to provide communities with adequate, sustainable infrastructure funding. Greater Sudbury faces a capital deficit of $700 million on its roads infrastructure alone, Matichuk noted.
Horwath also called the province’s recent decision to require local police services to handle nuisance bear complaints, without consultation with affected municipalities, a disservice to the north.
“This was a backdoor download to municipalities,” the NDP leader said. “It’s something the Liberals did just so they could slash money from the budget.”
Matichuk said nuisance bears are also a health and safety issue for police, who haven’t the staff, the budget, the training or the equipment to deal with bears.
Greater Sudbury city council recently passed a resolution asking the province to take the responsibility for nuisance bears.
Horwath promised to take all of Matichuk’s concerns to the NDP caucus and to Queen’s Park. Both said their meeting was productive.
“We have tremendous potential for growth and development in Greater Sudbury,” Matichuk
said. “To realize this potential, we need support from all parties at Queen’s Park, and I’m glad I had
the opportunity to share our vision for Greater Sudbury with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.”
Next on her agenda, Horwath will join NDP MPP Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin) for a visit to Elliot Lake today.
Posted by Arron Pickard