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Setting Sault priorities

Friday, September 13, 2013   by: Darren Taylor

Officials from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, currently conducting an input-gathering tour of communities across the province, met with an audience of Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce representatives, local elected officials, business people and Sault College administrators Friday.

The event, held at The Grand Gardens on Dennis Street, was billed as The Sault Ste. Marie Session of the Ontario Chamber's Economic Leadership Series, in preparation for the Ontario Economic Summit.

Under the direction of Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan O'Dette and Queen's University Executive Decision Centre Director Erik Lockhart, local leaders split into brainstorming groups and were encouraged to submit lists of what they perceive to be the community's main priorities over the next two to three years.

The final objective was to agree upon four major priorities for Sault Ste. Marie, with suggestions on how to move forward on those priorities, for presentation by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce at the Ontario Economic Summit, to be held November 6 to 8, 2013 in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Premier Kathleen Wynne, most of the provincial cabinet, and CEO's of Canadian banks and other major companies.  

The four major priorities identified at Friday's session are multi-modal transportation for trade purposes (including the community's need for a deep-water port), workforce development (with an emphasis on skilled trades training), attraction and retention of professional immigrants and assisting small and medium-size local businesses export their goods.

It was also agreed that there needs to be youth mentoring, gathering youth feedback, and retention of young people graduating from local postsecondary institutions.

In his remarks, O'Dette described the need to attract skilled immigrants to Sault Ste. Marie and the rest of Ontario as crucial, with the number of baby boomer retirements expected to increase over the next two to three years.

O'Dette stated 50 percent of skilled immigrants have already opted to live and work in Alberta instead of Ontario. 

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce President  and CEO added that only seven percent of Ontario's small to medium-size businesses are engaged in exporting their goods.

O'Dette said such companies, including those in Sault Ste. Marie, must try to export to China and its consumers, which number in the hundreds of millions.

He added that the U.S. market is not to be counted out and is expected to rebound, stating that a great deal of trade is already happening between Ontario and the State of Kentucky alone.

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso commented that she, Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes and Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti meet regularly in roundtable discussions, and O'Dette encouraged the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) to keep pressing the Northern agenda to the provincial government at Queen's Park.

Hayes and Orazietti also attended Friday's event.

Amaroso said she hopes to see the massive Ring of Fire project become a reality, stating that Sault Ste. Marie would benefit from shipping chromite through the community through a deep-water port.

O'Dette, for his part, is urging development of the Ring of Fire, stating if the area is not developed and its chromite not mined, chromite markets in other countries of the world would capitalize on a missed opportunity for Ontario.

Regarding the need for immigrants trained in skilled trades, and as to why more Canadian-born people have difficulty in obtaining apprenticeship training, Hayes told "Our government's policy is and always will be Canadians first for Canadian jobs, but the reality is that there are a number of jobs out there that are not able to be filled by Canadians."

"The challenge in Sault Ste. Marie for apprentices is finding an employer that will give apprentices the number of hours they need to complete their training, because a lot of our work in Sault Ste. Marie, in construction for example, is cyclical in nature.  We need a methodology to move an apprentice from one program to another so they get the necessary number of hours.  We've been working on that, and it's pretty challenging."  

Orazietti told us: "Essar Steel Algoma has ramped up the number of apprenticeship spaces available."

"The province has provided a training tax credit  of $15,000 for apprentices and created additional spaces in our colleges to help people get the skilled training they need."

"We're working very hard to give people born and raised in this part of the province the support they need to get access to postsecondary training in skilled trades with 30 percent tuition reduction and reintroduction of grants."

"We've also helped create new positions and purchased new equipment for local businesses like China Steel, Rector Machine Works and Soo Foundry."

While both men were in attendance, Hayes and Orazietti were asked by if funding would be coming to help Sault Ste. Marie repair infrastructure damage caused by this week's heavy rain.

Hayes said it is up to the municipality and the province to apply for aid if it is considered needed.

"At this stage we have not had 'the ask,' but if we do get the ask it will be explored at that time."

Orazietti told us a municipality, in order to receive infrastructure repair funding from the province after strong weather damage, must declare a state of emergency within a 14-day period and submit estimates of what the cost would be to the appropriate Ministries.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie has not, to date, declared a state of emergency.

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Brianne 9/13/2013 5:47:42 PM Report

So the almighty dollar overshadows the health risks of mining and transporting chromite ! Did any of the chamber members do ANY research on how sick this mineral can make people ?

"The two most common types of chromium are trivalent chromium (Cr-III), which
is found in the mineral chromite, and
hexavalent chromium (Cr-VI). While Cr-III
is considered an essential trace element in
human diets, high doses can cause health
problems and harm sensitive plants and
animals. Human activities such as chromite mining and ferrochrome processing
can convert Cr-III into Cr-VI, which is 100-
1000 times more toxic than Cr-III and is
known to cause cancer.

Skin contact with Cr-VI can cause inflammation, eczema, open sores and permanent sensitization that causes a skin condition called allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Eczema and
ACD have been found in populations exposed to environmental chromium contamination.
Ingestion of large amounts of Cr-VI can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach and intestine
damage, anemia, kidney and liver damage. Cr-VI ingestion has been linked to a number of cancers2
and is starting to be considered a likely human carcinogen. Many of these affects
have been observed in populations exposed to chromium contaminated drinking water.
Breathing in Cr-III and Cr-VI can irritate the nose, throat and lungs and produce inflammation. Cr-VI inhalation during chromium industrial work is known to cause nosebleeds,
ulcers and holes in the septum (structure between your nostrils), asthma, lung cancer,
sinonasal cancer and possibly other cancers. Breathing Cr-VI seems to be the most dangerous route of exposure. General population exposure to chromium contaminated soils has
been linked to lung cancer."

But yeah, lets go ahead and mine that stuff and get our $$$$$
shju 9/13/2013 7:00:41 PM Report

Can always go on welfare and stay disease free if you choose not to work. Seems like a pretty boring life to live 10 years longer and do nothing because you have no money. Jobs mean money and yes it comes with a price... health, enviroment. Something must suffer.
shju 9/13/2013 7:03:23 PM Report

There is a greater risk of you getting cancer from sitting beside your computer so long. Toss out your computer, cut the power to your house and start a farm. No carbon footprint for you!! Oh ya just because you played farmville doesn't make you an actual farmer were you can survive on your own.
Tag33&1/3rd 9/13/2013 8:31:29 PM Report

wakeup 9/13/2013 9:19:16 PM Report

Wow i have heard some stupid things in my life but shju or how ever ya spelled it, you are the exact example of whats wrong with the planet, everything comes with a cost lol , as obviously you think money buys everything, unreal , either just stupid or never had to live with anything harmful an try to continue a resemblance of life as well as obviously no responsibilities, as to mining this crap , first poster is absolutely correct as there is lots of info on this stuff an is major league dangerous, but of course all that matters is money, an who care the cost to people an as to the do it at all costs, lol ya costs to medical, cost for tax payers as just as many get sick that dont get one of these jobs, but all good , just like the usa recovering, lol yet hundreds of trillians in debt an looking to war with more of the east idiots who been at war for ever an is nobodies business but theres an the fact that their moral beliefs are straight out sick, same as why the f we need more imagrants when we have hundreds of thousands of youngpeople who can be trained for such things, its funny how this government acts like we dont have specialists, yet we have 6 of the most intellegent scientists in the world not to mention in almost every field , all this talk about how baby boomers didnt have enough kids an growing old, what a joke , whos responsible for people realizing to not have huge families as the costs out grew the income of all people, most families with just two three kids , have both parents working so much they dont have any life other then work just to pretend to provide the same sort of life as was during the boomers, 37 cents for a pack of smokes, 64 cents a gallon , yes a gallon, box of cerial 99 cents just a couple quick examples, now we have shiat products , lucky to last three maybe five years, compared to items that lasted twenty, an the technologies that we do have can last that long but we arent sold such things, as all that matters is money an politicians filling their pockets an lieing, why has this wynn not had to pay the price for her lies an cheating the public of billions, yet this moron is still in charge, but after seeing the post from this shju or what ever i now see why,
shju 9/13/2013 9:41:28 PM Report

I work in one of the worst environments possible for the Sault. I make a good living and have a lot of responsibility. You talk as if you are shocked the world revolves around money. It always has and always will. Complaining about it wont change your situation. If you are that angry about things I suggest moving to Africa were there is nothing there that can harm you. Read my comment from above, you might want to read a book on farming in Africa. I don't think farmville has an Africa version.
shju 9/13/2013 9:52:16 PM Report

The reason both parents work in the household is for a few simple reasons. 1) Neither one has a good paying job. 2) Determination for more money. 3) By choice because one party is bored.

Most families live way beyond thier means. A perfect example is cell phones. A waste of money unless you are on call for a job or you use it for work. But I guarentee every person that complains about money has a cell phone.

And costs of commodities go up because wages increase. You cant except the same item that sold for 30 cents 30 years ago to cost the same when the person making that item only made 5 cents an hour and now makes $10 an hour. The housing market has increased drastically because of 2 people working, and having increased buying power that is has created a frenzy in the past 10 years in Canada. If one person would stay home and take care of the kids it would open up good paying jobs, the prices of houses would drop by half and you would have more stable households.
girlygirl123 9/15/2013 6:55:04 PM Report

Wake up Sault Ste Marie, you are behind 100 years . Tourism ? are you kidden. Do we think that people will come here to walk the Hubb Trail, or the Casino ? Oh lets not forget the Bush plane museum . Our children leave this town, there is nothing here and in 50 years this will be a ghost town should Algoma Steel go bankrupt. Smaller Northern Ontario Communities have so much to offer, Sudbury, Parry Sound have more family activities to offer than the good old Sault.
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