Niagara’s indifference to Ontario’s economy

It should come as no surprise that Niagara’s unemployment rate is not only one of the highest in all of Ontario, but that the Niagara Workforce Planning Board has also decided to do nothing about it –– at least not right now. David Alexander, the executive director of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board, has stated that instead of being concerned with the numbers, we should be focusing more at  the number of people within the Niagara region that are actually looking for work. In a new survey done by Statistics Canada in December 2013 however, results showed that Niagara had the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada. In the past year, the unemployment level have risen by 3.2 per cent, and with the actions set in place to fix that, or lack there of, the future for Niagara’s economy doesn’t look promising.

Welland MPP Cindy Forster has also expressed her concern with the current state of Niagara’s employment levels and how they affect Ontario’s economy. Although the Liberal government has made claims to increase job creation, Forster has explained that most of these new jobs are part time or offer lower wages than those jobs that are being lost. How does this help our economy? It doesn’t.

However, Alexander has promised us the good in our future. After briefly mentioning that participation rates could also be the factor affecting our unemployment number or that too many people are just concerned with the number in general and aren’t focusing on the real problem, Alexander proceeded to talk about the future of tomorrow and the importance in post-secondary education. By mentioning that people in today’s workforce are not only continuously changing jobs, but also changing careers, Alexander strains the importance of post-secondary education and has explained that he’d rather look forward and look for ways to enhance the economy in future years that stress too much about the unemployment numbers right now.

Even though post-secondary education can be important and is often necessary to be employed in today’s economy, that can’t and shouldn’t be the only solution we have for unemployment right now. Planning ahead is vital for an economy, but if we fail to notice what is going on in the present, how can we fix the problem and ensure that the future will be any better?

Many workers look to the government when it comes to unemployment and hope that they come up with a solution for this growing problem, so when that very government is banking the future of the economy on university and college grads, we have a problem. According to The Washington Post, only 27 per cent of graduates today are working in jobs that are related to their major, with only 47 per cent of all graduates in North America that are actually employed. This doesn’t really help our unemployment issue; all that this shows is that having a degree will eventually get you work somewhere at some point. That doesn’t really help our economy and does little to solve our low employment number.

Unemployment is a growing problem in our economy, with Niagara facing the worst of it. How much longer are we supposed to buy into the promise of tomorrow when the problem just keeps getting worse? As students, this is nothing but discouraging. It’s hard enough for people who have worked for years and have been loyal to their respective companies to maintain their jobs, but after we finish our education we are being thrown out into an underemployed economy with nothing but student loans to show we are qualified.

Along with Forster, Tim Hudak, MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook has announced a new act called the, ‘Million Jobs Act’ in legislature this February, which is laid out to lower taxes for employers, provide more training for skilled workers and create more jobs. Hudak has expressed his concern with the state of Niagara’s economy and has announced that the situation that has to be dealt with now more than ever.

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