On May 16th at the GCC, David Campbell will host a session discussing “the significant challenges associated with population decline and labour market realities.” As you have probably heard, the population of the province is declining – almost everywhere in the province. Among other things that means our tax base that pays for a lot of our services is declining. It also means that employers are having a more difficult time finding enough folks to fill the job vacancies they have. Look in this paper at the number of job postings available. Sure, not everyone is able to fill all the jobs available – because of education, physical work requirements, distance from home, ability to find and afford a baby sitter, etc. But the point is there are many, many jobs in the county and in the province that are going unfilled. Companies are actually unable to fill all of the orders they have because of insufficient number of workers – and that is not good for them or for us.
Immigration is one of many solutions we need to evaluate. It does not address all the needs but is important. Soon there will be several new folks in Town from Romania and the Ukraine who have left their homes to come to Canada to start a new life. They want to stay here and become part of the community. They want to work. They want to buy homes and rent apartments. They want to buy things in our stores. They want to be “us”. We need to help them feel welcome.
I started this with a reference to session on May 16th. The intent is to help understand the work demographics in Charlotte County and how better connection between jobs available and potential employees can help; how fostering greater youth retention can help; and how immigration can help. Employers should attend to learn, even if they do not currently have job openings. As a community we need to grow and we need to make sure our businesses have qualified workers – by all means local first – but when that fails, we need other options. There are several projects that we hope get underway in Charlotte County this year and in the future so the challenge will get greater, not less. Let’s open our minds to potential solutions.