by Mayor Nancy Peckford
On Monday, January 23 and Tuesday, January 24, members of Council had the opportunity to participate in three Ministerial delegations at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association [ROMA] virtual conference on behalf of our Municipality to discuss key priorities for our community.
Alongside senior representatives from the Upper Canada District School Board [UCDSB] and Kemptville Campus, I led a delegation to a meeting with Ministers McNaughton and Clark on Monday, January 24, to advocate for the expansion of apprenticeship programs at Kemptville Campus. In 2020, Kemptville Campus was granted Training Delivery Agent approval to offer the Level 1 Commercial Vehicle and Equipment Ontario under the auspices of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.
In doing so, we leveraged the resources of Kemptville Campus and the UCDSB’s TR Leger School of Adult, Alternative and Continuing Education. The first group of students from all four local school boards were enrolled in the Fall of 2021, and there is currently a waiting list for the next intake. Due to the high demand and critical labour shortages in several related industries, the Campus and UCDSB is now seeking to expand its apprenticeship offerings.
Council met with Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, to advocate for the creation of two hospice beds in North Grenville, thereby reducing pressure on the very limited capacity at our local hospital – and leverage opportunities elsewhere. These beds would reduce the significant expenditures on local and regional hospitals for end-of-life care, and decrease the travel and logistical burden for families who are travelling to access palliative care elsewhere.
We also flagged the urgent doctor shortage, given that our community has, unfortunately, lost five physicians in our community since 2019, and North Grenville is no longer regarded by the Ministry of Health as an “Area of High Physician Need’. We are in conversation with KDH and several family health practices on immediately improving doctor recruitment and retention.
Given the explicit commitment by the Ministry of the Solicitor General to transfer provincially owned ‘excess surplus farmlands’ to North Grenville, Council took this opportunity to brief the new Agriculture Minister, Lisa Thompson, and seek her support for the potential establishment of accessible community gardens, vertical growing, and equine facilities, among other possibilities. As host of the 2022 International Plowing Match, there is a lot of momentum in the community to ensure community driven agriculture and related initiatives become a reality.