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Spring Edition March 5, 2008

Inside This
Issue TOURISM AN EARLY WIN: CVNW
``Greg Sorbara was clearly listening`` said Common Voice Northwest Chair,
George Macey when he read Sorbara`s Discovering Ontario, a Report on the
• Early win for
Common Voice Future of Tourism. The report, released in mid February included a significant
Northwest number of the recommendations made by Tourism Northwest and in particular
the key ones adopted by Common Voice Northwest. There are 13 recommen-
• Employment In-
surance Reform
dations from the Tourism Northwest Report that are reflected in some way in
Update Sorbara’s Report” said Tourism Northwest Co-Chair, Tim Lukinuk. “While we
don’t agree with every specific recommendation in his report, we are certainly
• Youth Consulta-
pleased that our work has provided the basis for so many of his recommenda-
tion Update
tions.” For an analysis of the comparison between the two reports please go to
• Task Force our web site at www.commonvoicenw.org. See also page 3
General Update

• Board and Execu-


tive Notes
CVNW TAKES ON EI REFORM
Common Voice Northwest, a regional research and policy group, has called on
• Meeting Schedule
the Federal Government to make significant changes to the Employment Insur-
ance program to assist laid off forestry and mining workers across the region.

According to Common Voice Northwest Board Chair George Macey “as this re-
gion has experienced a loss of over 6,000 forest industry jobs in the past few
years, it has been necessary to examine what public policy changes need to be
made to deal with the aftermath of these significant job losses as well as looking
to the future to examine how best to move the economy of the Northwest for-
ward. To this end over the past nine months the Regional Enhancement Com-
mittee, which is a sub-committee of Common Voice Northwest, has been work-
ing to identify issues related to labour and community adjustment across the
Northwest. They identified Employment Insurance Reform as a key tool in as-
sisting workers, their families and the communities that host them in transition-
ing from one economy to another.”

The Regional Enhancement Committee developed a series of ‘made in the


northwest’ recommendations on EI reform and presented them to the Common
Voice Northwest Board of Directors for consideration” said Macey. “The Board,
in turn, has adopted those recommendations as their own and are now working
to convince the Government of Canada of the need to move in the proposed
direction.”

Macey formally presented the reform package to Industry Minister Tony Clem-
ent in a private meeting a week before the Federal Budget. Marvin Pupeza, a
member of the Common Voice Northwest Executive Committee and Co-Chair of
the Regional Enhancement Committee presented the package to MP Bruce
Hyer at his pre-budget consultations in Thunder Bay.
See Employment Insurance Reform on page 2
Spring Edition Page 2

EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REFORM (cont’d)


Other copies of the material have been sent or delivered to MP Greg Rickford (Kenora) and MP
John Rafferty (Thunder Bay-Rainy River). In addition, MPPs Gravelle and Mauro were asked to
get a copy of the package in the hands of Premier McGuinty to add to his argument for EI reform
when the First Ministers met out west.

Next Steps: The CVNW Board is not satisfied with the response from the Government of Can-
ada and decided to take the message directly to the Members of Parliament. A package was
emailed to all MPs asking them to join us in working towards changes to the EI system. A similar
package will be sent to all Ontario municipalities asking them to put pressure on their MPs as
well. Similar communications will go to Ontario Chambers of Commerce and to the Labour
Councils around the Province. Municipal members are asked to take the issue to the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities in June and MP Rafferty will be asked to take it to the Natural Re-
sources Committee of the House of Commons to get them to deal with it as the aftermath of the
crisis in the Forest Industry. Mayors Krassilowsky and Peterson will take the message to AMO.

Summary of EI Recommendations

•Common Voice Northwest believes the geographic qualifiers within the system should
be eliminated, and a maximum benefit period of two (2) years be inserted in its
place. Finding a job will take longer than ever due to the current economic crisis and the 45
weeks currently allowed is insufficient to ensure that laid off workers are able to remain in the
area and be available to return to their community mill when it restarts.

•Common Voice Northwest believes that severance pay, and pension payout offsets
should be eliminated from the EI system. Workers who are receiving severance pay should
also be allowed to receive EI benefits right away. Workers should not be forced to exhaust
their severance pay before receiving benefits.

•Common Voice Northwest recommends the EI service delivery system must return to a
more centralized type of model, where services will be based on a "one-stop shop", with
a view to deliver consistent and meaningful information to affected workers. It should
also be able to approve individual training or retraining programs immediately, not 6
weeks prior to the start of training. Training provided within the system must include ba-
sic skills and education in an effort to avoid worker disqualification.

•Common Voice Northwest further recommends that the qualifier test for EI training
benefits not be linked to EI status, nor based on family income.

•Common Voice Northwest recommends that there be one EI Economic Zone for all of
Northwestern Ontario and that the Thunder Bay Economic Zone be incorporated into the
N.W.O. zone.
With Thunder Bay and the rest of Northwestern Ontario being as hard hit due to the crisis in the
forest industry it is unfair to discriminate based on where one lives. In many cases workers at
the same mill based in and around Thunder Bay will receive different benefits because of
where their home is. Northwestern Ontario is a single labour market. Full Report is available
on the front page of our website www.commonvoicenw.org
March 5, 2008 Page 3

General Task Force Update


Energy Task Force: The ETF, in conjunction with the Town of Atikokan and City of Thunder
Bay continue to prepare for the upcoming release of the revised Ontario Power Authority Plan
for Northwestern Ontario and the subsequent Ontario Energy Board hearings into the matter.
The ETF recently circulated an electrical capacity and disruption survey to every municipality in
the Northwest requesting information that will help prepare for the upcoming hearings. The ETF
has also began scoping out other issues related to Energy in the Northwest.

Regional Enhancement Task Force: This task force is in a bit of a hiatus as it searches for
new co-chairs. The Executive Director of CVNW will be working with the outgoing co-chairs to
assist in the recruitment of new leadership to maintain the operation of this very important
group.

Public Policy Research Institute Task Force: Work continues on the development of the Re-
search Institute with meetings held with the University of Toronto and Lakehead University.

Tourism Task Force: The Tourism Task Force, now called Tourism Northwest, will be meeting
shortly to formally review the Sorbara Report—Discovering Ontario, a Report on the Future of
Tourism, and will be making recommendations to the CVNW Board on what items to support
and those items that need to be resisted or changed.

Transportation Task Force: The Transportation Task Force has had its initial meeting to pro-
vide invited members with information about CV and our goals. A preliminary issues list was
developed. The Administrator also met with the Mayor of Dryden and the Manager of the Dry-
den Airport to identify issues specific to small airports. Work is being done to initialize a sec-
ond meeting in the near future, more information will be provided as it happens.

Mining Task Force: The Mining Task Force has not yet come into being and work is soon to
be underway in the implementation of creating a group of members.

Agricultural Task Force: Work is still being done to try and revitalize our Agricultural Task
Force and get it back on its feet.

Immigration Task Force: This Task Force is in the formation stage around a regional Internet
Portal and an Immigration Strategy. The organizers will be channelling their findings and any
recommendations through CVNW for action when appropriate.

Discovering Ontario A Report on the Future of Tourism


Greg Sorbara’s Ontario Tourism Competitiveness Study resulted in the Discovering Ontario A Report on the Future
of Tourism ,supports the principals supported by CVNW as developed by Tourism Northwest:
• That Northwestern Ontario is a distinct piece of the geography of Ontario.
• That coordination and resources are needed at the regional level.
• That Northwestern Ontario needs to develop our own (Tourism) plans (to work toward creating a unique
brand and stellar experience within a provincial brand)
• That Northwestern Ontario organization’s should have a larger role in our management.
• That regulations are required that will allow our region to raise (and control) our own resources. (through a
Destination Marketing Fee) These dollars will flow directly to the tourism industry and will provide us with a
fair share of an estimated $100 million of much-needed annual marketing and management support.
BOARD AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NOTES
Common Voice Northwest The following are some of the key decisions made by the CVNW
Box 20098 Board and Executive Committee since the last newsletter:
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 6P2
1. A new lobbying template has been developed and adopted to
aid each Task Force and the Board in determining how best to
Ottawa House
42 Cumberland Street , S.
get our message across. It includes identifying who the target
audience (ie policy maker) is and how best to communicate to
them our wishes. It also accepts the concept that we have
limited funding so that we will utilize the leaders of Northwest-
ern Ontario who are already meeting with Cabinet Ministers to
take our message forward. We will develop the message and
Phone: 807-768-0638
Fax: 807-768-0638
representatives from our member organizations will deliver it
E-mail: administrator for us.
@commonvoicenw.org
2. The Forging the Future, an Economic Vision for Northwestern
Ontario report has been referred to the various task forces
with a request that they review the relevant sections, update
Spring Schedule them where appropriate and submit recommendations to the
CVNW Board for consideration. The Board felt that prior to
CVNW formally adopting the recommendations as their own it
CVNW BOARD would be prudent to get the views of the task forces as to how
April 22 and June 17 relevant the existing recommendations are given the changes
All meetings will start at 9:00 AM to the economy that have occurred since they were written.
EST and will be a combination of
3. The Board had a preliminary discussion of the need for eco-
an in person meeting in Thunder
Bay and Teleconference. nomic stimulus for N.W.O. and identified an industrial electri-
cal rate, the green energy act and credit support for small, me-
dium and large enterprises (ie forestry) including a new loan
EXECUTIVE guarantee program as key items. Discussions will continue.
COMMITTEE 4. The Townships without Municipal Organization (TWOMO)
April 3, May 1, June 5 were accepted as members in CVNW bringing the total num-
All meetings will start at 9:00 ber of voting member organizations to 8 with a total of 13 vot-
AM EST and will be by Tele- ing representatives.
conference
5. Jim Squires, President of the Thunder Bay Multicultural Asso-
ciation was elected to the Executive Committee of CVNW.

Youth Consultation
On January 21-23rd, 2009 Common Voice Northwest’s Administrator, Sarah Munroe, attended a
Youth Conference in Dryden, Ontario. Sarah was able to generate contacts in the Region that
should prove to be beneficial to Common Voice for facilitation our consultation with Youth, as
well as gain some insight as to the issues facing youth in our Northwestern communities. The
CVNW Board has decided that the best way to obtain the input of youth is to organize a series of
workshops across the northwest—one each in the Kenora and Rainy River Districts, one in the
City of Thunder Bay and a final one east of Thunder Bay. The workshops will be designed to at-
tract youth from across the region to provide their input into the economic future of the North-
west. Sarah is currently developing a budget and researching funding options. A report will be
submitted to the CVNW Board at its April meeting. Sarah Monroe can be reached at Administra-
tor@commonvoicenw.org, Phone: (807) 768-0638 and Fax: (807) 768-0638.