Jobs, ice storm and fill

Early in January, Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey released a very disappointing jobs report showing that Ontario had sustained a net loss of 39,000 jobs in the month of December.

It would be wrong to read too much into one month’s job numbers. More important is the trend over a longer period of time.

But even looking back a year, it doesn’t get any better. Ontario’s unemployment rate in December was 7.9 percent, unchanged from the province’s unemployment rate in December 2012, one year ago.

The clear conclusion is this: we have made no meaningful progress on net job creation in 2013 in Ontario.

And with an even longer time horizon considered, it gets worse.

Our Ontario PC Caucus maintains that Ontario’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national average every month for seven straight years.

Far too many young people are still unable to find work. Many have finished university or college programs, but can’t get their foot in the door into a “career” track job.

Clearly, a new approach is needed to encourage job creation in Ontario. We need a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy which supports small business and start-ups, new apprenticeships, productivity, innovation, tax relief, hydro price stability, and red tape reduction.

To be fair, Ontario’s unemployment rate for the month of January, released by Statistics Canada on Feb. 7, showed a modest improvement of less than one half of a percentage point. However, a media report stated that fewer people in Ontario were looking for work.

We continue to challenge the Wynne Government to table their jobs plan, and if they can’t or won’t, we offer them ours.

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Some of our municipal government partners, including the Town of Erin and the Township of Guelph-Eramosa, have sought financial assistance from the province for clean-up costs in the aftermath of the Christmas ice storm.

I did not hesitate to offer my support, in writing, for the province helping municipalities with their legitimate ice storm clean-up costs.

If the Wynne Government ignores our situation, the full cost of the clean-up costs will have to be absorbed in municipal budgets. This will do nothing but put upward pressure on property taxes.

We call upon the government to do the right thing, just as we did in the days after the ice storm: neighbour helped neighbour.

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For some time, I’ve been raising constituents’ concerns about fill being trucked from construction sites in the GTA and being dumped on rural sites in our area. There is no effective provincial regulation of this practice, and residents are concerned that these compromised or degraded soils may not be environmentally safe.

Last fall, we brought the issue to the attention of the Environmental Commissioner.

Late in January, I received word from the Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, that in response to our concerns, he is ordering a comprehensive review of the issue. The review is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.

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The Ontario Legislature is scheduled to resume sitting on Feb. 18. It is shaping up to be a very interesting time in Ontario politics. Stay tuned.

Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott welcomes your comments.  He can be reached at 1-800-265-2366.  His website address is



Ted Arnott