Horwath tackles manufacturing issues while in London
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath met with some of the unemployed in her visit to London Thursday.
It was a chance to hear about the struggles and roadblocks they face and to brainstorm about ways to overcome the hurdles.
Horwath heard stories such as Heather Paquin’s.
“My job was with call centres in the financial sector,” says Paquin. “We were out of work or unstable work for the better part of three years.”
She isn’t alone.
Last month, Heinz announced it will close its Leamington plant. Next, Kellogg's announced it is shuttering its London factory. And then this week there was news that Cargill in London will lay off some of its workers in 2014.
“We continue to see canneries closing down and leaving Ontario,” Horwath says.
“We continue to see a lack of strategy around agriculture and food processing, even though the government talks about it.”
The Conservatives agree with the NDP.
“I think this government has given up on manufacturing all together,” says Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC MPP Monte McNaughton.
For those seeking work, it does seem that way.
“It’s a frustrating place to be, looking for work in a place where we are seeing closure after closure and work that can be found is unstable, short-term contract and low wage,” Paquin says.
In the last month, manufacturing in southwestern Ontario has taken a big hit.
In the food processing industry alone in this region, 1,300 jobs have disappeared.
While it may seem difficult to believe with all if this job loss, London-Middlesex is faring better than it was this time last year.
In November 2012, London was above the provincial average in terms of unemployment. Now, it is doing much better and has seen a decrease of 1.5 per cent in its unemployment rate and is now below the provincial average.
But Horwath believes more jobs will be lost if action isn't taken soon.
“We're certainly not going to get investment in Ontario and we're not going to get our manufacturing sector back or maintain our existing manufacturing with a premier who shrugs her shoulders and says it’s inevitable that these jobs are going to go.”
The NDP and Tories cite high electricity rates as a major factor in plant closures.
Last month, the Liberals announced that electricity rates across all sectors would likely rise and that could contribute to more closures. The Tories have proposed an industrial rate which would lower manufacturing costs and make Ontario more competitive with Quebec and neighbouring States.