November 30, 2018

An open letter to Sault Ste. Marie

The conclusion of Algoma’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act proceeding is good news for the company and our community.  We have been involved in this process for 3 years and it has been challenging.  It has been challenging for the employees and pensioners, the contractors and suppliers, and the community – at – large.  Many of us are, in one way or another, connected to Algoma and many of our household incomes are either directly or indirectly dependent on its continued operation.

The end of this process brings with it some stability, consumer and community confidence and, with a big impending capital investment, a boost to our local economy.  That is all good news and we should take a moment to recognize and appreciate that we came together as a community, met this challenge and overcame it.  However, we have to make sure we do not take more than a moment or assume that the end of this process represents the end of our challenge.  It is not.  There is much more work to do to make sure the stability that comes with today’s announcement isn’t temporary.

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Sault Ste. Marie Budget 2019: have your say

With the public feedback window for the City’s 2019 budget now open, I want to encourage residents to submit feedback.

The above chart includes the numbers behind the property tax increases over the last four budgets. The first column (City) represents the City’s budget and any increase related to it. The second column (External) is the operational funding the City is obligated to provide to external boards and agencies. Some examples include the Police Service Board, the Library Board and Algoma Public Health. The third column (Surplus/Reserve) occurs when surplus funds are used for operations or a tax increase is deferred in a previous year.

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The importance of remembering

November 11th is about remembrance, and the act of remembering, and the importance of memory. On November 11th, we remember the men and women from our community, our region and our country who have served our nation in times of peace, and in times of war, and we also recognize the loved ones of those who have served or are serving.

Reflection is a significant and important aspect of Remembrance Day, and this year marks an important milestone to reflect upon. 100 years ago on this day at 11 am the guns fell silent in recognition of the signing of the armistice that would lead to the end of World War I. It marked a victory for the allies, and a defeat for the Germans. It was a result achieved through the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers, who had an outsized impact on the Great War.

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Showing solidarity in the face of hate

I had the opportunity to attend a vigil at Beth Jacob Synagogue on Thursday evening in honour of the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was a moving experience and I was touched by the show of solidarity demonstrated by our community.

In particular, I want to recognize and thank the members of our local Jewish community. The leadership they showed in organizing the vigil is incredibly important.

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Growing our community

A recent article in the Sault Star highlighted a key point that was discussed during a local roundtable meeting held by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen with industry representatives, union officials, post-secondary staff, service providers and sector experts landed on a key issue: the need for more immigration to Sault Ste. Marie as a means to address our community’s shortage of skilled workers, the effects of which are being felt locally.

It is an issue I spoke about with Minister Hussen and it is an issue the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors feel can be helped by a policy change.

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Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall and sharing the truth of the residential school system

I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of a residential school exhibition, called Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall, at Algoma University last week. It is a survivor-driven exhibition, and I want to recognize and thank the survivors who contributed to it, along with Algoma University and in particular the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre for helping facilitate the establishment of this important addition to our community.

For far too long we did not as a country, a province or a city, acknowledge, tell or share the story of the residential school system.

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