A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Labour Force Survey Misleading.

I have had a go at this before.....
Just noticed a piece in the Sun Times titled “Region's unemployment rate drops”, the first line says “Part-time job growth drove November's unemployment rate down to 3 per cent in the economic region consisting of Grey, Bruce, Huron and Perth counties.” This may be true in that its the “Four County Labour Market Planning Board” serving “Grey, Bruce, Huron, Perth” and all the statistics for that area are lumped together. In fact I am told that separate statistics for the various counties and/or economic areas within them are not available, this to me makes this information not only all but useless but highly misleading.
That generally work found is in “the precarious types of employment – i.e. part-time, casual, entry-level, low-pay” jobs. Nor does it “reflect the degree to which people are under-employed” and “they don't reflect how many of those employed part-time would rather work full-time.” further adds to the problem with the “Labour Force Survey”. (A full time job lost is equivalent to a part time job gained in this and most other “employment” statistics.)
The survey goes on to say that 3,200 jobs have been “gained”, however it seems that 90% of these are those “part time precarious employment” positions so across the entire region from Tobermoury to Stratford just 300 full time jobs have been found and no one knows whether these were in Owen Sound, Goderich, Collingwood, Walkerton or Hanover areas.

Then there is this bit “The top two gains were in the services-producing sector in "accommodation and food services" (read waitressing) and "wholesale and retail trade" (read cashier) categories, which gained 1,200 each. Employment in the goods-producing sector saw gains in all categories the highest gains in that sector were in "agriculture" with 1,100 jobs. “ (make me wonder what positions are included in that sector) Losses were all in the services-producing sector, 900 jobs, in "other services," and 800 jobs in "finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing,". Reading between the lines it would seem that blue collar workers are SOL, a quick look at local Grey Bruce job listings would seem to confirm that.

My biggest problem with this whole thing is that it lumps completely disparate areas together and appears to assume that the job market in southern Huron - Perth is the same as that in northern Grey - Bruce. I strongly dispute this, I believe from my own observations of various employment “opportunities” web sites that the situation varies greatly across “the four counties”.
If the Four Counties Labour Force Survey is to be taken seriously and to be of any use in assisting LOCAL employers, the unemployed and organizations in addressing the issue of the LOCAL economy then we need LOCAL statistics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Is Internet an Essential Service?

I have previously ranted here about the difficulty faced by many rural residents to get any affordable internet connection to their home let alone a 'high speed' one. For those who do not have a 'line of sight' to an internet suppliers transmitter tower they are left with just two options (dial up internet now being all but useless except for email use due to 'heavy' content of almost every site) those being satellite connection or Cell phone connection, both being expensive and with low volume thresholds. In some cases the physical location negates even these options.
For those who take their connections for granted or those who think an internet connection is an unessential frill I offer this clip from a letter to The Owen Sound Hub from one Shane Patey,

The last few years have seen a major shift toward content held exclusively online by outlets that would have previously delivered the same content through both print media and television. The area is enjoying a major increase in new year round residents. Living here should not mean that we can not access the same information as our city based counterparts just a few kilometres away.
This move to online content and other resources for engaging citizens (learning portals, health supports, and more) is not happening alongside similarly robust development in physically situated and accessible by the public resources, and far and wide is replacing many that have previously been physically accessible. Also, recognizing the challenges of engaging many who feel marginalized and vulnerable related to various physical and mental health experiences, publically funded entities like NGOs and community health outlets are being funded specifically to deliver content and education online by both federal and provincial funding bodies including but not limited to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Longterm Care, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Funding arrangements are continuously evaluated for their reach and impact and the last year and a half has seen the addition of evaluation criteria specifically pertaining to an organization's capacity to engage stakeholders via traditional online outlets, and social media.
Shane is of course correct, government is increasingly 'centralizing' services and seems to think that making these services available online make them available to those distant from those urban centers where face to face service is available. Unfortunately many rural residents do not have, and often cannot get, reliable affordable internet connections and given the difficulty of servicing some areas with either cabled service or wireless service this will not change much in the foreseeable future despite all the hype about bringing “high speed internet' to Grey County. Some of those in community's already served by such connections may well get improved service but those away from major arteries will continue to struggle to get any reliable (affordable & unlimited) connection.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Changing the clocks

I hate all this buggering around with the clocks every 6 months, not only does it make me even more out of sync with the rest of the word and mess with everyone elses internal clock but it is totally unnecessary in today’s world.
Brought in 100 years ago to......” minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I” I think that that war is over! Modern almost 24hr a day work / life habits negate any 'savings' of any kind and may in fact cost us by disrupting folks circadian rhythms. “Clock shifts sometimes complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns.”......and piss off old men!

So as I contemplate waking at the same time as I always do but an hour earlier according to the clock & sit around for hours waiting for for the sun to emerge from behind our forest of trees at 9.30 or so, (or is that now 8.30 or 10.30, I dont know, I get so confused by all this back and forward thing,) I say why dont we just leave the bloody clocks at one setting or the other.

They say old folks dont need as much sleep, I dont know about that I could USE more sleep I just dont GET more sleep. As I struggle to keep my eyes open for a couple of hours after the evening news, a fight not helped by the absolute crap on the box during that period, I contemplate waking up to see the clock saying 4.30 instead of 5.30 and thats if I sleep in for a bit! I think perhaps an afternoon nap may be in order but will that mean I get even less sleep at night, however without one I could be falling asleep right after supper .....or worse do a face plant on my plate!


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chatsworth Community Forum

A few weeks ago I posted an article promoting a couple of local news letters and floating the idea of an online community forum. Whilst I received very little response to that idea I never the less have spent a little time building such a website on my home computer both as something to keep the old brain busy (as with the old bones its use it or loose it) and to have something to show those who may be interested in such a concept. It is readily transferable to a live website in short order once a site has been established on line.

Below are some screen shots of the “Forum Index” to hopefully grab your interest:- (click to enlarge)

As you can see there are additional pages to get help for those not familiar with forums in general and a page with links to other local resources. The footer has “news" feeds from the County website and hopefully from the Township website once they are established.

Regarding the upgrade of the township website, the Township Web Site and Notice Provision Committee, of which I am a member, will be having its first meeting shortly and news feeds and subscriptions is one of the many items to be considered! There are many other items on the list and the process may take some time so have patience, I can assure you that better access to more information is high on on the agenda.

Meanwhile I will once again invite Chatsworth Township residents to weigh in on the possibility establishing a Chatsworth Chat Forum to enhance communications between local residents, clubs, organizations and to establish a one stop place to tell us all about meetings, events and goings on in the communities that make up our rural area.

Leave a comment here or contact me by email and please share this article with other area residents.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Farce of a Electoral “Consultation”?

Last week I posted the details of out local Mp's (Larry Miller) upcoming Telephone Town Hall re Electoral Reform not to promote him but to promote discussion about this important initiative. Well said teleconference is now history and the reports are in and they are not good. I had said in my previous post that I had little faith in Mr Miller accurately forwarding the broad range of opinion that could well ensue and that the number of folks actually getting to express their view would be limited.
Apparently that will not be a problem in that allegedly those that wished to express a view that did not coincide with Mr Millers FPTP and referendum views did not get a chance to speak and thus 100% of the callers did in fact, as Mr Miller previously alleged did the callers to his office, “support the current first-past-the-post voting system.”

This from our local news blog “The Hub”
Anyone who listened in on Larry Miller's tele-forum Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, was treated to a Miller kiss fest and a merry orgy of misinformation. Larry got what he wanted. Sure enough, one hundred percent of his constituents were opposed to proportional representation. No doubt we'll hear him trumpeting this "fact" soon enough.
Perhaps all the supporters of PR were smarter than I was and just stayed away knowing it would be a farce. Or they were, like me evidently, screened out by Larry's operators, with only clapping seals who wouldn't challenge him being let through.
I was waiting in the queue for 40 minutes. At one point toward the end, we heard him say, "I see another call has come in," and he took the other person. What about the queue? My call was already in. Why wasn't I next? Was it because his operator had earlier asked me what I intend to say and I foolishly blurted out the truth that I wanted to provide some information about proportional representation?
Fortunately the results are so lopsided that they shoot him in his own foot. That not one person was heard to support PR advertises the lack of credibility of the whole vain exercise. Like those third world despots hated by their people who are elected with 99 per cent of the vote every time.............
Read more

Interestingly, it not being a 'live' meeting there is no direct report from any other local media for comparison, we wonder if this was a deliberate move by Mr Miller to avoid such reporting? Mr Miller however continues to defend his 'no change' position and says the 30 or so people who did get to express their views were not 'filtered'!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Local MP to hold Teleconference.

September 27th, 2016 - MP Larry Miller will be hosting a community TeleForum for residents in the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. 7pm-8pm. Residents will receive a phone call at approximately 7pm and will be given instructions on how to participate.

Larry Miller, Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting (teleforum) with residents of the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound on the topic of electoral reform. The teleforum will take place on Tuesday, September 27th from 7:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.
Residents will have the opportunity to listen to and join in a discussion with Mr. Miller on the topic of electoral reform including: whether a national referendum is required to change the voting system, alternative voting systems, mandatory voting and online voting. The discussion from the teleforum will inform a submission from Mr. Miller to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE).
Residents will receive an automated phone call shortly before 7:00p.m. on the 27th and will be prompted to remain on the line. Those wishing to participate must simply remain on the line. Those who miss the call but receive a message on their answering machine will be given instructions on how to participate.
"I am looking forward to hearing a number of different concerns, questions, and opinions on electoral reform," said Miller. "It is my hope that a community teleforum will allow for the greatest number of participants possible. I hope that all will take the time to participate in this important discussion."
Those with questions or concerns about how to participate are encouraged to contact Mr. Miller's office.
The Sun Times reports that....
Miller said there should be a full national referendum before changes are made to the electoral system.
He said about 80 per cent of the people he has heard from share that view.
Miller said about two-thirds of the constituents who have contacted him or responded to a question that was sent in a recent mail-out from his office have said they support the current first-past-the-post voting system.”
Personalty I am not going to bother, I have made my views known directly to the committee and I have little faith that Mr Millers report to them will accurately represent the wide variety of opinions that will no doubt been pressed by those that manage to get a minute or two to speak in the hour allowed at his teleconference.
As for the majority contacting him “supporting the current first-past-the-post voting system.” that may well be true in that the Conservative mantra is just that however this does not reflect the general feeling a cording to a number of national polls. The only reason for supporting a referendum on any changes is to further support this position in that those that do not understand a new system will undoubtedly vote for the status quo, and make no mistake some of the options currently on the table are fully understood by very few citizens.

Cross posted at Democracy Under Fire

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Banking at your Post Office?

It is a VERY rare occurrence when I agree with any union organization who are generally about getting more, more, more for their mostly well paid members, but on this one I cannot but help agree.....

OTTAWA - Canadians have flooded their Members of Parliament with messages in support of postal banking after Canada’s six biggest banks reported a combined profit of $10.4 billion last week. Banking is the most profitable industry in Canada, but Canadians pay some of the highest bank fees in the world, averaging $185 per user per year.
Calls to bring back postal banking are gaining momentum as the Liberals’ public review of the post office enters its second phase of consultation. After bank profits were announced last week, thousands sent messages to their MPs in support of a postal banking alternative.
“These profits could be used to reduce the sky-high banking fees we pay in Canada. But because the big banks have cornered the market, they’re charging us more than ever,” said Dru Oja Jay, Executive Director at Friends of Public Services.
“Postal banking would be a powerful, low-cost alternative.  And profits earned by postal banking could help keep the post office thriving as a public service and bring returns to communities,” said Mike Palecek, CUPW national president.
The action was coordinated by Delivering Community Power, a campaign backed by over fifty labour, environmental social justice and anti-poverty organizations that envisions a revitalized postal network with postal banking and expanded services to address Canada’s climate and economic challenges.
"We support postal banking for its potential to address economic inequality and climate change in Canada.  Affordable banking, investment in local clean energy projects, and better services for rural communities and First Nations -- let’s make the connections and make it happen.” says Avi Lewis of the Delivering Community Power coalition.
Postal banking is supported by the postal workers’ unions, anti-poverty and community groups, and over 600 municipalities across the country. It’s already instituted in many parts of the world and existed in Canada until 1969.

This idea has been proposed before to enhance services in small rural communities where all such things are gradually being 'centralized' away to the urban centres. Of course when the unionized postal employees go on strike and you cant get at your money it could be a bit of a problem?