Tom McGregor | Campaign Platform – Part 1
Tom McGregor’s platform will be released in four installments over the next four weeks. Readers are encouraged to contact Tom with comments at www.tommcgregor.com.
I am sure it will come as no surprise to you when I say that the biggest issue and the most significant concern for the people of Chatham-Kent is the lack of jobs. The people of Chatham-Kent need and want quality employment. Jobs with a fair pay rate and good working conditions.
Many of our quality manufacturing jobs have left and are unlikely to return. While our residents are eager to work and work hard, we often lack the education level and skill sets to move on to some of the higher technology based jobs.
What we really lack is a job strategy. A job strategy will help us determine:
1. What kind of jobs are out there? What is the next big thing?
2. What type of jobs do we want for Chatham-Kent? Some employment opportunities come with negative community impacts. Community consultation (with the affected community in Chatham-Kent) is important.
We must remember that the individual communities within Chatham-Kent have different needs and desires. Our advanced automobile technology strategy may work in Ridgetown or Wallaceburg, but Wheatley is a fishing village, and we need to understand what they need and want.
The cookie cutter approach that we often apply in Chatham-Kent doesn’t match up with the individual communities resources and wants.
3. Once we know what type of jobs are available and what fits with the communities of Chatham-Kent, we need to ensure our workforce has training available to get them up to speed. Consultation with our two Community Colleges is key. In my conversations with administrators from both Colleges I found them very eager to help upgrade the existing workforce and teach new skills to our youth.
Probably everyone who reads this has experienced the situation where their children or their friends children leave Chatham-Kent to go to college or university or seek employment, never to return. When our youth leave, they take with them our ability to grow as a Municipality. We need our children and their children to fill our schools, our arenas, our art and recreational facilities, and our homes.
Chatham-Kent needs to be more attractive to youth. We must partner with and encourage St. Clair College and Ridgetown College University of Guelph to expand their programming and their physical size. More programming and more degree programs will encourage our youth to stay and other youths to come to be educated and remain to become contributing residents of Chatham-Kent.
We need a plan to help young entrepreneurs. Many municipalities have partnered with education or private business to provide incubator malls for entrepreneurs. That may or may not be the answer, but clearly we need to make Chatham-Kent more attractive to our young business people. We can’t let the little we have slip away.
Our unemployment levels far exceed the national average. Unemployment creates many social issues, alcohol and drug misuse, domestic abuse, crime, depression and feeling of low self worth.
Clearly, many of our problems within Chatham-Kent can be solved with quality employment. We need to promote Chatham-Kent and its individual communities aggressively. If it requires international travel, we need to do that and as your Mayor I am ready, willing and able to go.
One of the responsibilities of the Mayor as the head of Council is to represent the Municipality, locally, nationally and internationally. It is important that the Mayor moves beyond the boundaries of Chatham-Kent.
We need to change the way we have been doing things.
What we have been doing isn’t working.