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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jobs, or the lack thereof....

Its been a while since I looked at the situation regarding employment in our area but with my son laid off due to lack of work a very thin listing of positions available on both ?? and other on line resources I thought I would take another look. The Rural Ontario Institute has saved me wading through the government numbers with a recent report which among other things compares the job situation in urban areas verses non urban. It is no surprise to me that we here in Grey Bruce are one of the highest unemployment areas amongst rural areas which are already worse off than the urban areas which are also struggling. All in all its not a pretty picture here in Ontario.

Here in part is what they have found......

Jobs have been declining in non-metro Ontario for 10 consecutive months – from October, 2012 to June, 2013 the non-metro job decline is larger than the 2001 recession and larger than the 2005-2006 recession. The present decline is approaching the depth of the 2009-2010 recession.
In contrast, metro areas continue to grow – the only period over the last decade with metro job decline
was during the 2009-2010 recession, however, not all metro centres are growing. Comparing June, 2013 to June, 2012, jobs have declined in Kingston, Peterborough, Oshawa, Hamilton, KitchenerCambridge Waterloo, Guelph, Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Two economic regions had a decline of jobs of 6% or more in June, 2013, compared to June, 2012 – Muskoka-Kawarthas and Stratford-Bruce Peninsula (includes Grey Bruce)
Other regions with declines were Kingston-Pembroke, Northeast and a recent decline in Northwest.

Judging from the job listing which were starting to look encouraging during the summer those numbers of jobs available have declined considerably over recent months, given that many jobs in this area tend to be seasonal this is no surprise but I do wonder how many listing there will be in the spring, at the present time unless you are a heath professional or a waitress or store clerk you are SOL!

See their report for charts and figures.

Then our friend Owen over at Northern Reflections draws our attention to this from The Huffington Post

Looking at StatsCan’s latest job numbers, released last week, BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes notes that Canada created fewer than 175,000 net jobs in the year to date (meaning all of 2013 except December).
As Owen points out it's not just about a paucity of jobs. It's about the kind of jobs that are being created:
Even the latest numbers for November look negative when digging into the details. While the jobless rate held steady at 6.9 per cent and Canada registered 22,000 new jobs during the month, 20,000 of those were part-time, notes Erin Weir, an economist for the United Steelworkers.

Broken down another way, 19,000 of the employment increase were people reporting themselves as self-employed,” Weir writes. “Canadian employers actually hired fewer than 3,000 [net] additional employees last month.”
Certainly its looking very bleak in many communities across Canada and more so in Ontario where several major food processing plants have recently announced they are 'consolidating operations' and shutting down their operations. This is particularly troubling because is some instances it has directly impacted the farming community that provided the input for these processing plants. Instead of becoming more self-sufficient and growing and processing our own food and providing jobs for out citizens it seems that things are going the other way, will we soon be shipping all our raw food out of country just to buy it back as processed canned goods. It is no different in the manufacturing industries, we are buying our “stuff” from Japan & China & the U.S., anywhere but 'made in Canada. No wonder there are no jobs, seems like a self defeating circle where we will all soon be totally at the mercy of foreign nations and those 'free' trade agreements.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mail Box Police Targeting Rural Customers Again

After having spent several years and thousands of dollars forcing rural customers to move their mailboxes due to 'safety issues', many of which have been in use in the same location without a problem for many years it now seems that these mail boxes are now causing 'injury' to postal workers because they may be an inch or two lower than specified or are on an arm designed to swing out of the way when the snowplough swipes it going by! Many rural mail delivery folks have been doing this without a problem for years and years and as contract employees have not been paid anywhere close to the kind of wages and benefits that full time 'employees' have been receiving, even given that they were forced to join the union a few year back they still use their own vehicles for the most part and I suspect that they are poorly paid for this. Its hard for the pubic to tell because as with any union – employer issue it is not considered 'our business' even when we the taxpayer are the employer!

To add insult to injury it seems that adjusting the height of a few mailboxes and purchasing right hand vehicles for all those rural route workers will SAVE $10-$15 MILLION! Say What? Apparently some rural and suburban mail carriers have complained of "ergonomic concerns" related to reaching across their vehicles to deposit mail out their passenger-side windows into rural mailboxes. It seems that some of these poor folks SITTING IN THEIR VEHICLE are complaining of "ergonomic concerns" related to reaching across their vehicles to deposit mail out their passenger-side windows into rural mailboxes. The corporation notes that these "awkward movements" increase risk of repetitive strain injuries and generate additional expense for the corporation due to costs associated with injury on duty.

Seems to me that if reaching across your vehicle holding those heavy letters strains some muscles then perhaps you are looking for an excuse to suck the taxpayers in to pay for a few days off to be paid by you overly generous sick leave benefits. I know full well that this is NOT brought on by the average rural route postal delivery person but by a very small minority of union types who simply want something for nothing. I thank the many who have delivered my rural mail for years without ANY problems and even gone out of their way to deliver that 'special package' right to my door, I appreciate your service and dedication I would suggest that you are doing yourselves no favours by remaining silent about those few 'shit disturbers' who seem to be present in any organized labour collective!

Finally I note that our urban neighbours are now also under attack by the postal 'service' and that 'community mailboxes' are going to become the norm, please don’t think that the rural folks are free of this affliction, many rural routes have been 'converted' to this service reduction, the difference being that our 'block' can be considerably bigger than yours in distance and we have NO sidewalks. I also note that in this discussion of second class citizens that if you live in an apartment of sufficient size the you WILL get delivery to 'your door' (even if it is the one at the bottom of the elevator ride) but the folks who own a house and pay higher taxes are the ones who will be forced to trudge through the snow to get their mail.

The question has to be asked is our 'postal service' an essential government service or an individual 'pay for service'. According to our federal dictators many of such similar services must 'pay for themselves' so that they can waste our tax dollars on promoting themselves and their corporate friends in the Chinese oil industry.
Nuff said, rant OFF!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Justified Destruction

Just in case you thought that the Environmental Review of the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal means anything.............

Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan has received the go-ahead from Ottawa, despite the environment minister’s view that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
In a statement late Friday, environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq concluded that the effects from the 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion are “justified in the circumstances.”...........
The Jackpine expansion would allow Shell to increase its bitumen output by 50 per cent to 300,000 barrels a day..............
A review panel concluded last July that the project was in the public interest but warned that it would result in severe and irreversible damage so great that new protected areas should be created to compensate.
The review concluded that the project would mean the permanent loss of thousands of hectares of wetlands, which would harm migratory birds, caribou and other wildlife and wipe out traditional plants used for generations. It also said Shell’s plans for mitigation are unproven and warned that some impacts would probably approach levels that the environment couldn’t support.
Shell has said Alberta’s new management plan for the oilsands area will provide more concrete data to assess and mitigate environmental impacts. The company has purchased about 730 hectares of former cattle pasture in northwestern Alberta to help compensate for the 8,500 hectares of wetland that would be forever lost.
More on this at The Common Sense Canadian

And just in case you have any further doubts as to the impact scientific research will have upon decisions of this sort...........

Last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is closing five of its seven libraries, allowed scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through what remained of Eric Marshall Library belonging to the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.

"It was a world class library with some of the finest environmental science and freshwater book collections in the world. It was certainly the best in Canada, but it's no more," said Burt Ayles, a 68-year-old retired research scientist and former regional director general for freshwaters in central Canada and the Arctic.

"The loss of this library and its impact on fisheries and environmental science is equivalent to Rome destroying the Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It's equal to that," said Ayles. At the time, Alexandria boasted the world's largest collection in the ancient world.

More at The Mound of Sound

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Generating Bullshit

Lets see Ontario’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says the AVERAGE household will pay an extra $12 monthly for electricity next year and that this will bring the monthly bill to $167 from the current $125 for a household using 800 kilowatt hours. He goes on to say that this will be a SAVING of what it could have been under the previous plan and that the AVERAGE annual residential increase over the next 20 years will be 2.8 per cent, down from a projected 3.4 per cent. This according to the Star.
Other reports say
A new Long-Term Energy Plan says the average monthly residential bill of $125 will rise to $178 within five years, a 42% hike. Hydro bills are expected to dip slightly in 2019 to $177 a month, and then rise again until 2022 when they’ll hit $193 a month. A second price decrease is forecast for 2023-24 and then the trend for prices is onward and upward for the foreseeable future. This from the Sun
Then there is CTV who say
Ontario electricity consumers can expect their bills to jump almost 50 per cent in the next three years under the new long-term energy plan unveiled Monday by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli. However, Chiarelli said the average homeowner will pay about $100 a year less than they would have if the Liberals hadn't (changed their plan)

I don’t know about you but it seems to me that both the minister and the media need both some lesson on disseminating factual material and some math lessons here. I dont know where the press got all their figures from other than from the ministers rather vague and self-serving statement, I did go looking for a press release but did not find such, it could be all tucked away in the PDF of the `plan`but I was not about to wade through all that at this time. Either way this is all a crock of shit!

First of all the term the average household is so totally meaningless that it can only be described as deliberately misleading. Judging from my monthly bill there must be a lot of `householders` who are rarely home and eat out a lot, I know we out here in the boonies have to pump our own water which adds a little to the bill, but we do cook with propane which should balance things out, and it would be really nice to see a bill below about $170. Of course our `cost of electricity is less than half of that but the delivery, other charges and TAX quickly fix that!
Secondly a reduction of the estimated future cost is NOT a saving its simply a POSSIBLE reduced future cost. And my math says that an average rise of 2.8% per year on a bill of $125 would bring it to $128.50 not $167 and over 5 years to $142.50 not $178 so either there is a great deal of creative accounting going on here or hydro prices will drop dramatically around 2020. How gullible do they think we are.
Frankly the press has done a terrible job of reporting this and the facts are seemingly not permitted to interfere with a good story and so without a lot more digging who can really say what the Ontario government is predicting, but one would think that if their plan is so good they would make it more readily available rather than the pages of BS and spin that is currently on the Ministry of Energy’s web site 

So remember when you see your hydro bill increase next year you are saving money as you empty your wallet.