Youth Retention is Critical to Our Future in Cornwall but is it an Election Issue by Jamie Gilcig

jg2CFN – Youth retention is a huge issue in Cornwall Ontario, and while it’s easy to make it an election issue there’s very little any candidate can do to change the course and direction of what’s happening here in our fair city.

Today I was talking with a young man that was planning to run for council.  He’s born and bred here in Cornwall, but his girlfriend couldn’t find a good job.

We talked about some of the issues and they were the same things.  If you weren’t “connected” you couldn’t get a good job.   Connected being to one of the Cornwall cliques.   Many locals and outsiders have complained of choice gigs going to people who had no background or skill set and as you can imagine when you do have those skill sets it can be frustrating; especially if your options or a dead end service job….or worse.

We had a young woman who grew up in the East End.  She did well, went to college and ended up on a Billboard on 9th Street as the face of our future.  She moved to Ottawa when her boyfriend couldn’t get a good job in Cornwall and she was connected, having a great job and future at City Hall.

Culture, community, things to do, places to go, schools, shopping, local government; are all issues at play in many communities as well as Cornwall.   The attraction of going to a bigger city like Ottawa, Montreal, or Toronto is always attractive to young people and yes, some do come back; but not enough.   Actually some have actually mentioned one of the best things about Cornwall is that you can have a better quality of life here and party in Montreal or Ottawa in a relatively short time.

Cornwall has been hoping to attract Francophones from Quebec and I get that theory.  So far it hasn’t been terribly successful and it’s upset a lot of Unilingual Anglophones in Cornwall.  It’s actually contributed to driving away a lot of young people as well who head West seeking jobs after graduating from local schools without the language skills to qualify for those bilingual jobs.

The only thing elected officials can do is support initiatives that make Cornwall more attractive, and that’s something that has failed to date as it’s mostly just given some lip service and a bit of cash to sycophants of the administration.   We need to shine as a community to attract businesses, artists, and investment.   We need to make Cornwall a community that more people want to live in.

That won’t happen easy and it won’t happen until we start to support people that truly are making change and achieving something.

The days of giving out city dollars and support to friends of friends, akin to telling a child their picture is awesome and putting it on the fridge door do not lead to youth retention.  It certainly is something that people should think about.  I know we tried with out 100 Letter Campaign about what’s amazing about Cornwall, but sadly the Mayor and Council sabotaged it calling it a “Security Issue” and refusing to support or cooperate with the three month program.

The city, which spends nearly $300K per year on advertising, also refused to sponsor a series on how attractive Cornwall could be to distance workers; IE people that work from home for big companies like IBM in the digital world who bring a lot to a community.

We can do better, and we must if we want Cornwall to grow!    The good news is that there’s more room for improvement than for failure, but it will take a real change in culture to move forward.

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  1. Jamie you just hit the nail on the head again. This is one of our main reasons for leaving Cornwall. My daughter searched high and low for work to no avail and then landed a service job and also replacing a secretary for one week and that was it. The service job cut her hours way down to 8 hours and that was it since the owner hired many people and couldn’t give people their hours. All the jobs in Cornwall is all about connections to “the clique” and we are not people who bow down to that scum bag bunch in Cornwall or elsewhere. I wouldn’t return to Cornwall at all – I mean never even in death. I have had more than my fill of the whole thing. Cornwall will never grow as long as they have a mentality that is stuck in the gutter and I said it so many times that if the people themselves don’t change and throw out the clique then they deserve everything they get.

    Jamie people have been leaving Cornwall even before my day and like I said I am a woman of 63 years old now and I have seen a lot in my time. Even the people at the manpower offices were telling my daughter that the jobs went to certain people only. It took courage for us to come back here to Ottawa and we never regretted it one bit. It would take a literal miracle from God to make Cornwall a better place to live and work. It won’t happen – not in my time.

  2. All the jobs in Cornwall are NOT about connections to the “clique.” Not everything in Cornwall needs “clique” approval. I wish people would stop knocking Cornwall and look at its possibilities. Cornwall has vast potential; it just has to be tapped properly. I see a change coming in October, I don’t know what yet. Heck, I don’t even know who I will vote for yet. Yes, youth retention is important. But so is job retention. With Ontario now being a have-not province it isn’t easy to retain jobs. Dalton McGuinty, Dalton McGuinty Jr (Kathleen Wynne) and the Fiberals have done a real good job of screwing (I’d rather use another word, but I don’t think Jamie would appreciate the one I’d like to use) up this province. As for jobs being for certain people that has been around for years. We must adhere to the (at certain times) absurd equal opportunity rules. I used to work in the federal government. I can’t count how many times job competitions came up and they were specifically written so the average white male could not apply. Reverse discrimination at its best!! I’d rather have the best person in the job, not someone who got the job because they fit a certain racial or cultural profile. Could you imagine if the construction industry did that??

  3. Jamie ,it is so obvious the love you have for Cornwall & wanting to encourage change for our youth to want to stay.All 3 of my children had left for education & jobs & is the reason why I,m leaving now as well.

  4. Author

    It’s amazing Mary how many good people leave Cornwall and why? We may not be able to fix Youth Retention, but we can improve it if we all work together.

  5. due to the fact cornwall is riddled with unskilled laborers,(that fact is obvious by the unemployment numbers), i feel there is a greater need to educate people how to perform a specific job, yes the service industry still flourishes in our area only because of our closeness to the border, and freeway and the fact cornwall is so diverse in its flavors. assembly lines are a way of the past with computers taking over jobs men and women used to do, but there are still specialty jobs that need to be performed by individuals that a computer just cannot contemplate. instead of polluting our city why do we not green it up? by retaining youth who are willing but untrained in the job fields, and training them, it will give them a sense of accomplishment when they can say i have a position to fill now not just a job.
    . when i say green up our city, that could entail everything from agriculturally to manufacturing equipment to help eliminate greenhouse gasses. a local business started manufacturing water cleaners that could turn swamp water into palatable drinking water, without the excessive costs of adding chemicals to make it that way. there is a unit in toronto on one of their university campuses feeding water to the campus.
    there are so many different angles cornwall could take in this perspective,(green it up) from manufacturing solar panels and equipment to training agri students and utilizing parks for their grow areas.
    with the government having just shut down two agricultural universities in south eastern ontario, why not jump in and take advantage of their move, and expand the horizons

  6. Jamie youth leave for many reasons but lack of opportunities may be the largest factor.
    As for attracting francophones that could explain why so many Quebec licence plates are at Local governmententities.
    The hospital hires a large number from Quebec because of the artificial requirement for bilingualism that far surpasses the needs ,so much for hiring local .
    In fact 6 physio therapists drive from Laval to work there.

    Perhaps Cornwall can utilize its proximity to Quebec to attract those that wish to leave that oppressive province ,there is many an opportunity Cornwall could use to attract these minorities looking for refuge .

  7. Jamie in fact my sources day their already been a number of young professionals moving to our area from Quebec .One is a University of mcgill prof “feeling pressured to leave”.
    Cornwall should take this opportunity to attract these many minorities .By the way those minorities that Quebec alienates tends to be the most educated .

    Many young Doctors ,engineers ect that due to bill 60 will escape this discrimination.
    Cornwall can capitalize with attracting these refugee’s.

  8. I hate to be all gloom and doom re the prospects of decent job opportunities for the youth of eastern Ontario, but it’s difficult not to be. Thanks to our real rulers, the global free-market capitalists, almost all manufacturing jobs have been moved off-shore where wages are the lowest and where labour standards are nonexistent. So now the vast majority of our youth are reduced to competing for mostly part-time minimum wage service industry jobs. True, there are some decent paying jobs in the construction trades, but hardly enough of them to make up for all the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared.

  9. Just before Domtar shut down for good there was someone from the Liberal/Fiberal government who went to Cornwall and said that the mill had opportunities. Just as that jackass said that the mill closed down completely and left people out of work. You talk about depression that would send anybody over the hill to nuttiness. You work all your life and you get the boot. That is happening everywhere you go. Many years ago when I watched TV and Max Keeping was on the news and it was during that time that there was a big layoff at CJOH and Max came out with the words “when it comes to economy there are no feelings” and that is so very true indeed. Many people are out of work and not just in Cornwall but everywhere. You have to take what you can in order to survive. The outlook is not encouraging at all.

  10. Highlander I wouldn’t use the word “refugee” for the people leaving Québec since these are not people being persecuted with their lives. These are people laving because of corruption in the provincial government and are afraid that Québec may separate and that they will be trapped. Leave out the word refugee. No Canadian knows what that word means unless they have been through that overseas in some countries. There are people who live in Cornwall or surrounding areas who commute to Québec (Montréal) for work and this is happening all the time because there isn’t anything at all in Cornwall. These well educated people would have to make their own employment in Cornwall and even then what people do you attract to your business. Most of Cornwall is unemployed and take a good look at all the empty stores and ask who is going to buy or even invest when the economy is in a mighty terrible situation and not just in Cornwall but world wide.

  11. jules dont carry the world problem on your shoulder the whole world is in a bad state the problem is bigger than you think [THE BANKERS RULE THE WORLD] hide the money you have left. thing will get even worse.on the upside tomorrow is another day

  12. Jules has a point. The term “refugee” usually refers to people fleeing war, famine, or serious persecution. It hardly describes Canadians who decide to move from one province to another.

  13. I somehow agree with Jules on this. I don’t think the people leaving Quebec are refugees. They just want out due to the political climate.

    In reference to Jules’ statement that people commute to work in Quebec that is true. But there are people who also commute to Ottawa. Same distance according to Google maps. And there are people who also commute to Brockville and Kingston and farther for work. So, I don’t think it’s fair to say that is just because there are no jobs in Cornwall. It’s just that there are more jobs available in larger cities. And as Highlander says there are people commuting to Cornwall to work at the CCH. I doubt that those are not the only ones commuting to Cornwall. It’s true a lot of jobs in Cornwall are service sector jobs. Being on the 401 provides SCM, Shoppers Drug Mart, Target and others the opportunity to have distribution centres here AND have easy access to highways. Don’t fault Cornwall for being on the 401. Cornwall needs to step up its efforts to attract other industries besides distribution centres. Cornwall is NOT the only Canadian city being affected by the downturn in the global economy.

    As for Domtar closing I don’t think the Canadian dollar value at the time helped. When our dollar value is up U.S. and other countries that have companies operating in Canada suffer as their costs rise. It’s cheaper for them to operate out of the U.S. or Mexico.

  14. Wikipedia
    “The refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of origin or habitual residence because they have suffered (or feared) persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because they are a member of a persecuted ‘social group’ or because they are fleeing a war.”

    Hate to admit it folks IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN CANADA .

    Jules wake up they are not leaving because of corruption hell that’s normalcy there ,but they are leaving because of persecution of one sort or another.

    Cornwall has the opportunity to attract these “refugee’s” from Quebec .If any leaders within this community really wanted to improve the city it should be advertising in Montreal Radio /TV /or other media outlets .
    Whether you call them refugee’s or not ,I know many of these people and they are looking to settle and preferable close to the Quebec border ,as they still have family ,friends and jobs there.
    Believe it or not they still love Quebec but politics and Racism has them escaping from their beloved home.

    Hey municipality leaders do you hear me? This is the opportunity for Cornwall to shine and attract Educated young and old to this great community ….we could possibly be that beacon of light for those oppressed .
    @ least 23,000 escaped down the 401 last year can we not attract some of them to our fine community ? Or will our community leaders drop the ball on this one too.

    The fear of bill 14 (new Bill 101 on steroids ) will have many new startups and or old business with greater then 25 people leave as the conditions imposed on these businesses limits their ability and survival of their company .

    Cornwall It is time to promote our city to those who are looking to escape Quebec !

  15. How would you attract work or business to the area?

    Unfortunately Cornwall area has not a mill town image to shun but a self-entitlement image that is far darker than most would ever understand. That is why so many projects are given to nonlocal contractors. It brings in wider opportunity and access to a more diverse work force.

    I can somewhat stand behind the self-entitlement feeling of the local populous. Once you seek employment at any level the same business mentality is maintained. “This is a small community and you cannot expect to earn what you earn elsewhere” I could never quite figure what the population of Cornwall or community size had to do with the rate of income.

    From a former local business owner I see these practices as poor business management and ethics. These businesses are dealing with the very same clients as companies in larger cities work with.

  16. Author

    Well Hailey a lot of people are watching what’s happening to CFN and myself from outside of Cornwall. It’s not good for business when you treat people in the manner that we have been enduring now for two years. False criminal charges, boycott’s, secret waterfront deals, conflict of interest, cronyism and corruption and sadly, a caste system where the people that know better and can change things sit by in silence. Utter irony, today I received a request to help with a story from someone that has participated in the hate groups!

  17. I look forward to hearing that story Admin!!

    You have a candidate promoting the arts in eastern Cornwall. You should ask him how many people in his employ actually have an arts degree, or how many are practicing any form or arts. My husband asked him in the last election how many of the employees actually have a post secondary education and how many a new council could help and how. He had no idea and I would bet my last piece of clothing he and all others have no idea what kind of talent is right beside them. It is ok to have a dream plan or goal, but if you have no idea what is really needed how can you say you can help?
    This is no better than self entitlement
    We know of one 2 working there one with a University education the other from College.

    This is my fear with some of the new people coming in….good ideas and no experience outside city boundaries.


  18. Author

    Hailey that’s the problem with cronyism and corruption.

  19. Jamie there are many young people in Cornwall who are unemployed and cannot do university but some of those young people can go into the trades and people in trades make very good money. We need people in trades badly and if many can be sent to trade schools to learn the trades then it would alleviate a lot of the welfare rolls. There is plenty of construction going on here in Ottawa and the city is growing and we are a population of almost a million maybe that now and it is continuing to grow not counting the other major cities. People who live in Cornwall would be qualified for those jobs and could commute to take those jobs. Cornwall is situated in the best area and my husband and I talk about Cornwall on just about a daily basis about both good and bad. The bad side is the clique that keeps the people pushed down – not just Bare Ass but the entire administration. Cornwall sure does have potential and that I sure do agree with you but if the people are not willing to get off their keester and make something out of themselves and help to encourage business instead of being called a welfare town then what. You all need to throw out the garbage that is keeping Cornwall behind. Get the people educated in trades and whatever is needed to attract business and to keep the taxes low. High taxes chase out businesses and that is both on business taxes as well as residential taxes.

  20. Admin
    You mentioned there are many people are watching from outside the city. These people you speak about, are they potential business ventures and growth for the city?

  21. This article shows the need for something to be done as we see Eastern Ontario getting further away from Wynne’s thoughts. An example is the transferring of college (Alfred & Kemptville) programs to other parts of Ontario. Of course the students that go should be invited back with summer work/coop programs to reconnect.

    Other parts of the country have been discussing this for years, perhaps we can learn from them.

  22. Author

    Hailey they are from all walks of life including potential investors and business concerns.

  23. I was reading the CSF this a.m. To those who think youth retention is a Cornwall unique situation I suggest you read the front page article in the CSF. Youth retention is NOT a Cornwall unique problem. It is happening in a lot of communities, big and small, across Canada. This realization doesn’t surprise me, as it has been happening for decades.

  24. Author

    Hugger why thank you for plugging a rival newspaper that you can’t post a comment to directly 🙂 Youth retention impacts most rural communities,but it’s particularly brutal for Cornwall and has been for quite awhile. Mix that in with a larger than average influx of seniors and it magnifies the problem.

  25. Not really plugging a rival media outlet. I know it bugs me when someone quotes or says some stats and doesn’t quote the source. That’s what I was doing. The articles, citing the StatsCan 2016 census, does analysis of youth retention and the aging of our population, the grey wave. The census is quite enlightening for all. I knew you wouldn’t allow the link, so……………

  26. Author

    Hugger I’ve never stopped a legitimate link if it pushes a story forward or proves a point.

  27. I am in agreement with all of you BUT Québec is not a place of war and real persecution. Yes they have a racist attitude but it isn’t a place where people are facing death. In the Middle East people are facing death and persecution of faith (mostly Christians and Jews and Yazidis) but Canada is a beacon to the world.

  28. Cornwall is situated in the right place but the vast majority down in Cornwall are seniors and people who are not educated and living off welfare or disabled and companies want people with trades as well. University is for those who can retain knowledge and be able to go far in the professions and not everyone can succeed in university so colleges come in for trades, etc. Trades are excellent.

  29. Jamie the wrong people are in charge of the hen house in Cornwall. The town died because of the clique and their friends. Someone or some people got paid very handsomly for handing over the keys to the mills to be shipped over to China. It was former PM Paul Martin who said that the mills had potential and they disappeared after his golden words.

  30. Money talks. And when it’s cheaper to produce something in another country after factoring in duties, taxes, freight etc. companies will do that. It’s all about money to the company’s bottom line, job retention is not quite a priority; though it should be.

  31. Yes Hugger it is all about money. I remember the man who was going through as President of the US and he spoke about a giant sucking sound and his life was threatened and he had to leave Ross Perot if you remember him. Vehicles, clothes, and so many things made in 3rd world countries because of cost and it brought us all down to being 3rd world very soon.

  32. Marlene ended up getting married but stayed in her job and she and her husband purchased a house in Orleans back then. The father’s maid ended up going to her house every morning to make their lunches for work as well as their meals. A spoiled brat and there are plenty out there. No brains and no skills and only connections.

  33. I agree with you Fern that people from Québec are not refugees. We have problems in Canada and yes plenty but nothing like the Middle East and other places. Even Europe is no longer Europe and you would all be in shock.

  34. You are all going to laugh but I was a few hours or more going through what would be the best places to live in Ontario and both good and bad for all places. There is no particular spot that I would want to live in. I knew some people here in Ottawa who came from some of those towns and cities and Ottawa is still the better but way too expensive. I am staying put in this apt.

  35. Do you all know that when I was going through the list of the best places to live in Ontario that Cornwall was never mentioned not even once. That is mighty bad. Cornwall died a long time ago and will never recouperate. A big economic collapse is coming so get ready with everything you can.

  36. Hayley and Jamie you nailed it croynism and corruption. The same is true going on here in Ottawa even back in my day. I got in the federal government by merit but it is no longer the case. It is all who can pull you in and it is a very corrupt mess. Wait until the economy collapses things are mighty bad. The US dollar will no longer be the reserve currency and this is by no means an accident.

  37. A lot of places don’t get mentioned in lists on best places to live.

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