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I was visiting a packed house at the Steelworkers Action Centre BBQ today.  I met with and heard some of the concerns of many of the recently and not-so-recently laid off in our community when the news hit.  350 more jobs lost as Raymond Industrial closes.

Greg McMillan wrote a spot on piece that really looks at the effect on the workers and their families.  I highly recommend it to get a sense of the human impact this closing had and will continue to have on our community.  Here is a small taste:

“I am guessing that just about everyone reading this knows of someone affected by the Raymond closing. That’s how much these workers are entrenched in the community…I hazard to guess that not since the major farm equipment manufacturing meltdown have we witnessed anything similar to this. It’s not pleasant to point out, but isn’t it a fact?”

The comments at the BBQ said it all.  “I thought this recession was supposed to be over?” said a friend of mine.   In Brantford the recession is definitely not over.

Food bank use increased 28% and continues to rise this year.

Local unemployment is at 13% and the national average sits at 8.7%.  The gap between the local and national numbers is troubling.  Big shiny cheques are delivered on the front pages of our local newspapers while the smaller cheques, the ones our workers used to feed their families are disappearing or moving to other countries.  We paid into EI for years just to help us transition out of messes like this one. 

It came off your pay cheque every payday.  You paid for it, created a surplus for just such an occasion and they took it from you.

Tax cuts are made for businesses with no strings attached.  They have used that money to set up shop overseas.  We paid for that too.

I would much rather have had the wages that were taken from me go to help out the families of laid off workers.  I don’t mind paying taxes if it means sustainable growth and if the money goes to the things we want it to go to like better health care, and a higher quality of life for our communities.

We need a prudent sensible plan.  The NDP has one and I would invite you to read our platform on “Creating Jobs and Innovation in a New Energy Economy.”

In it we show how a Green-Collar Jobs fund is a sensible investment for our economy and our environment.  How a Job Protection Commissioner is needed to investigate major layoffs and shut downs like the Raymond Plant or the many others that have hit us in the last several years.

It outlines a way to add pro-active measures to provide the right kind of atmosphere for job creation and innovation in all sectors not just for the oil companies and the banks.  Sectors based strategies in manufacturing; petro-chemicals; environmental technologies; tool and die; machinery and equipment; tourism; media; telecommunications; and agriculture.

Big shiny cheques are nice for those who get them but sustainable, forward thinking strategies are better for everyone.

Other platforms use a “take away” approach to handle our economy.  The NDP platform wants to make sustainable additions to our community and Brant could use that now more than ever.

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