Feds unveil funding to help youth, people with disabilities find employment

The federal government is helping equip youth in London and the surrounding area gain the skills and experience they need to find jobs.

Two local organizations are receiving combined funding of over $800,000 to help 130 Canadians with disabilities, and youth in London and Middlesex County. London North Centre MP Susan Truppe announced the funding, under the federal government’s Youth Employment Strategy and Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, on July 30.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s workforce, so by investing in them, we are helping contribute to Canada’s long-term growth, competitiveness and overall prosperity,” Truppe said. “We are proud to work with organizations like Youth Opportunities Unlimited and LEADS Employment Services so young people, including those in London and the surrounding area, can develop the skills they need to succeed in the job market.”

Youth Opportunities Unlimited will deliver a project to help 40 young people in the region successfully transition to the job market, or return to school.

Project participants will participate in short courses in fields related to their employment goals, such as construction, trucking, or make-up artistry. After completing their course, they will gain hands-on experience through paid work placements with local employers.

“This project will address two key issues that many youth face in their job search — skills training and work experience,” said Steve Cordes, executive director Youth Opportunities Unlimited. “The 40 young lives will be changed through the training programs and career related work experience.”

In the second project, Leads Employment Services London Inc. will help 90 people with disabilities in London and Strathroy overcome barriers to employment.

Participants will attend group workshops, and gain experience with local employers in retail, manufacturing, and the service industry.

Wendy Lau, CEO at LEADS Employment Services, said the government’s Opportunities Fund has allowed the Workplace Success Program at LEADS to focus and support individuals with disabilities in “enhancing their employability and gaining meaningful and sustainable employment.”

Last year, Lau said, over 60 percent of the Workplace Success Program participants residing in the City of London and Middlesex County secured employment and 25 percent returned to school to pursue their career goals.

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Feds announce $10 million investment for Wolseley Barracks and HMCS Prevost

The federal government is making a $10 million investment in Wolseley Barracks and Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Prevost.

London West MP Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), and London North Centre MP Susan Truppe helped make the announcement on July 27.

The investment will be made to remodel, repair and upgrade infrastructure in place at the Wolseley Barracks, HMCS Prevost, as well as the HMCS Prevost training facility in Port Stanley. The projects will begin this summer.

“Today, reserve sailors from HMCS Prevost continue to serve Canada proudly overseas and here at home, but like any military facility, HMCS Prevost requires upkeep to ensure it continues to serve this country for years to come,” said Holder. “This $2.1 million investment will support the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces by continuing to provide the right equipment and infrastructure.”

The infrastructure projects include:

  • Extensive work at the Armoury’s A Block where the building will be remodelled, including new flooring, wiring, HVAC systems, windows and doors, exterior siding and roof. In addition, washrooms upgrades will occur throughout the building, as well as foundation waterproofing, upgrades to the fire-alarm system and replacement of all cast and poured steps at the facility;
  • Upgrades to the washrooms and HVAC systems, as well as other necessary maintenance work at four other buildings;
  • Replacement of the parking lot at HMCS Prevost, as well as HVAC and washroom upgrades; and
  • Exterior and interior renovations at HMCS Prevost’s training facility in Port Stanley.

In addition, Holder and Truppe also announced that demolition work at Wolseley Barracks will be suspended pending further local consultations.

Additionally, it was announced that ‘O Block’ at Wolseley Barracks will be retained as it has been deemed to have operation requirements.

A total of $135 million will be invested in Department of National Defence armouries across the country over the next two years, and repairs will begin at the London Armoury this summer.

“This $7.9 million infrastructure investment will inject new life into Wolseley Barracks,” Truppe said. “The benefits of these projects extend well beyond the men and women of the reserves – it will also provide economic benefits to the local community, support trades and create local jobs here in London.”

Council ratifies new contract with CUPE Local 101

Council has voted unanimously to ratify a new four-year contract with CUPE Local 101 that represents 750 inside municipal workers.

The approval came after CUPE Local 101 members voted 77 percent to ratify the agreement earlier on July 22. City staff are expected to return to work on Friday.

The new contract provides a wage increase of one percent in the first year and increases of 1.25 percent for each of the three remaining years.

Other details of the contract include:

• Expanded weekday service delivery hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and introduces Saturday service delivery hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Retroactive wage increases resulting from arbitration awards related to job evaluations will be limited. It also limits early retiree benefits to new hires who work at least 30 years with the city.

• The city will now be able to consider new factors like performance appraisals when promoting employees.

“This contract is the result of many hours, days and weeks of bargaining and required compromise from both parties to agree on a settlement that both sides endorsed and recommended to their principals,” said city manager Art Zuidema. “Ultimately, this agreement is about our ongoing and future work relationships with our employees, about the ability to improve and modernize service delivery to Londoners while being financially prudent, practical and responsible.”

Zuidema said that city services affected by the strike will begin to return to normal service levels starting next week.

Further details will be posted on the city’s website at www.london.ca.

Canada’s oldest rebel urging action on progressive change

Harry Leslie Smith, an author and veteran who has been called Canada’s oldest rebel, is calling on Canadians to take action towards progressive change in the coming federal election.

Smith, 92, was in the Forest City on July 21, speaking at a panel discussion put by the Broadbent Institute. Held at Museum London, Smith’s appearance was the latest stop on his seven-city Canadian tour, Stand up for Progress.

“It’s exciting to be out on the road again,” said Smith, who recently returned from a national tour in the United Kingdom to encourage youth to vote. “My generation built a strong social safety network, but our greatest achievements are under threat by the politics of austerity. But I’ve been a fighter all my life, and I know we can win this fight because we did it before.”

Smith survived the Great Depression and fought in the Second World War for the United Kingdom.

After the war, he immigrated to Canada and became a supporter of building a strong social safety net as an antidote to the crushing poverty of his youth.

The author of Harry’s Last Stand, Smith said he was excited to be in London, which was the sixth stop on his cross-country tour. After the final stop next week on Oshawa, Smith will have travelled 16,704 kilometres with stops in Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Halifax.

During his comments, Smith addressed a variety of issues, such as the dangers of austerity, the lack of transparency in government today, and how Canada’s foundation — the social safety net — is in danger of disappearing.

“I wont tell u how to vote, but if u want fair wages, laws, education, housing, pensions . . . vote for a progressive government,” Smith said.

At each event, a panel discussion with young progressive activists follows Harry’s speech.

In London, Smith was joined by Abe Oudshoorn, a housing advocate and nursing professor at Western University, Jonathan Sas, director of research at the Broadbent Institute, and Kaylie Tiessen, economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Ontario.

Shawna Lewkowitz, founder of Women & Politics, served as moderator for the panel discussion, which touched on issues ranging from poverty and homelessness, social inclusion, the treatment of veterans, and how to engage a wider audience — including youth — in the political process.

City opens new spray pad and field house in Meadowgate Park

The City of London opened a new spray pad July 17, part of $749,000 worth of new features and enhancements to Meadowgate Park.

The water play features were designed with a nature theme in keeping with the park surroundings. It becomes the city’s 14th spray pad.

A new field house and shade structure were also built.

Additional enhancements were made to the surrounding park space with the addition of more seating, links to existing pathways, barrier free amenities and more space to park vehicles.

“I know the residents of this neighborhood are excited about the new splash pad,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “It will be a great gathering place for friends and family to come and beat the heat this summer.”

Lynn Loubert, the city’s division manager aquatics, arenas and attractions, said the interactive spray pad, field house, and shade shelter are “welcome enhancement” to an already active community park.

Locations and hours for City spray pads are available at www.london.ca/aquatics.

Weekend forecast leads to London’s first heat alert of the summer

Dangerously high temperatures have placed London under its first heat alert of the summer.

With Environment Canada’s forecast calling for high humidex values to reach 40, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued the first heat alert for the Middlesex-London region.

The alert will come into effect on Saturday, July 18, and continue until Sunday, July 19.

“The hot and humid temperatures of the summer have arrived,” says Randy Walker, public health inspector. “This weekend, we’re asking people to limit their physical activity, drink lots of water or natural juices, and to check in on their neighbours and seniors to make sure they’re able to keep cool.”

The combination of high heat and high humidity can be very dangerous. Anyone who finds they are suffering symptoms associated with extreme temperature conditions should seek medical attention immediately either by calling 911 or going to the nearest Emergency Department.

To avoid heat-related illness, follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and natural juices throughout the day, even if not feeling very thirsty. Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
  • Where possible, avoid spending too much time outdoors. If you must be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible. Plan necessary outdoor activities in the early morning or evening.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
  • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
  • Avoid turning on electric lights in the home.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.
  • Never leave a child or pet in a parked car or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
  • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medications you are taking.
  • Reduce the use of personal vehicles, stop unnecessary idling; avoid using oil-based paints and glues, pesticides and gas-powered small engines.

If experiencing any of the following symptoms of heat illness, seek help from a friend, relative or a doctor:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Weakness or fainting
  • More tiredness than usual
  • Headache
  • Confusion

Friends and relatives can help someone with heat illness by doing the following:

  • Call for help. Call 911, consult a healthcare provider or call Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000 or TTY at 1-877-797-0007);
  • Move the person to a cooler location.
  • Remove excess clothing from the person.
  • Cool the person with lukewarm water, by sponging or bathing.
  • Give the person sips of cool water if they are not nauseated or vomiting. Do not give ice-cold water.

For complete information on heat-related illness, or the effects of smog and humidity, contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit at 519-663-5317 or visit www.healthunit.com/extreme-heat.

Holder announces investment to support active, engaged seniors

An initiative to keep London seniors active is getting a boost from the federal government.

On July 15, London West MP Ed Holder announced Wesley Knox United Church has received $21,653 through the New Horizons for Seniors Program to help seniors stay active, engaged and informed.

“Our government encourages seniors to share their diverse skills, knowledge and experience with others,” Holder said. “Initiatives such as the New Horizons for Seniors Program help seniors to lead and participate in activities that strengthen our community’s well-being and quality of life.”

As a result of this investment, Wesley Knox United Church has funds for computers, workshops, seminars and social activities that will help serve local seniors.

Additionally, three student jobs at the church will be supported through the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs program. The program helps students gain the skills and experience they need to be successful, now and in the future, while earning money for the upcoming school year.

Paul Stewart, Seniors Connections coordinator at Wesley Knox United Church, said the investment in the program will have significant impact.

“Wesley-Knox Seniors Connection would like to thank the federal government for the generous grant enabling us to develop a program that allows seniors to actively share their gifts through social, educational and intergenerational activities in the community.”

Since 2006, the New Horizons for Seniors Program has funded nearly 15,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada, representing a total investment of $350 million by the federal government.