Thursday, December 12, 2013

Local Girls Retreat Wins Funding

An early Christmas present for the I Am Awesome and I Know It Retreat for young women.

It secured $5,000 after finishing 3rd in voting in the Aviva Community Fund contest's semi-final round.

Director Renee Martin-Brown says the money will make a huge difference for the event.

Her submission, along with the other top ten finishers, will now be reviewed by a panel to determine who gets the top prize of 50-thousand dollars.

A decision is expected in January.

High School First Responders Planning Trip To Washington

Fort Frances High School First Responders are planning for a trip to Washington in February.

Member Ashley Dupuis says they've embarked on a campaign to raise the money to attend to International Emergency Medical Services Conference.

The First Responders will be at Canada Safeway and the Christmas Store this weekend.

Changes To Municipal Act Requested

Ontario's Ombudsman is calling for the province to impose penalties against municipalities who violate Ontario's closed door meeting rules.

Andre Marin says the number of complaints to his office has more than double in the past year, but there's no consequence for violating the law.

Marin also wants changes in the Municipal Act that allows for one independent body to investigate complaints.

Most communities, including Fort Frances, pay for their own investigator instead of using the free services of the Ombudsman.

New Equipment For Sports Centre

Some new equipment for the Memorial Sports Centre's fitness room.

Town council has agreed to buy out the lease on two of its treadmills and purchase another, costing just over $13-thousand dollars.

Councillor Andrew Hallikas says keeping good equipment helps maintain membership.

Councillor Ken Perry says now is not the time to be looking at such new purchases.

The costs will be taken out of town reserve funds.

Advocates Hoping For Minimum Wage Increase In New Year

Advocates in Minnesota are hoping to see a raise to State's minimum wage next year.

Some observers believe there's a good change that will happen when the Legislature resumes in the new year.

Minnesota Budget Project's Nan Madden says raising the rate to $9.50 an hour would benefit several thousand families.

Critics say upping the minimum wage will result in more unemployment.

Changes To Canada Post

Canada Post is planning to phase out door-to-door mail delivery in urban communities.

It's part of a five-point plan expected the save the Corporation between $700 and $900 million.

Canada Post says it plans to set up more community mailboxes to take the place of door-to-door delivery over the next five years, saving it half a million dollars.

It also intends to expand its efforts of establishing postal outlets in retail stores and trim between 6 and 8 thousand jobs, mostly through attrition.

Ontario Auditor Releases Report

Northern Ontario's doctor shortage is drawing the attention of Ontario's Auditor General.

In her annual report, Bonnie Lysyk says while the province has increased the number of physicians, only 5 per cent are practicing in rural and northern areas where 14 per cent of Ontario's population live.

Lysak notes that locum doctors, meant to cover short-term vacancies in eligible communities, are instead being used for long periods of time, with a third of all hospitals using temporary physician services continuously since 2007.

Lysyk also reports that while workforce is shrinking, Ontario Power Generation's senior management is getting bigger.

Lysyk says the size OPG's senior management group has increased 58 per cent since 2005.

Lysyk adds the compensation given to OPG's employees is having a huge impact on the cost of electricity.

Ontario's Auditor General also focused in on the Ministry of Natural Resources, saying it's finding it difficult to protest Ontario's park's System.

Lysyk points to the expansion in the number of parks in the past decade and increased responsibilities for the Ministry as reasons.

Lysyk says she found significant portions of the park system that were subject to little or no enforcement of regulations on hunting and fishing, and prohibited activities such as commercial timber harvesting occuring regularly.

Opposition Reaction to Auditor Report

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak wants to see Premier Wynne take action on the findings of the Auditor General.

Hudak doesn't have much faith that will happen suggesting the Liberals are too focused on the gas plant scandal.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the Auditor's report shows the Liberal government isn't respecting people's priorities or taxpayer dollars.