Anyone with common sense already knows everything I am about to write in this blog. However, I want to make it clear to many of our current Regional Councillors who have somehow forgotten: they serve the residents of Niagara and not themselves.
Employees of the Niagara Region are individuals who have been hired to perform services for the residents. They work for the taxpayers. In so doing, the Regional Council of Niagara (who are also being paid to work for the residents) should hire the brightest and the best individuals to do the jobs required. The Region should hire employees based on their merit. The employees should be non-partisan and professional. They should not be hired based on their friendship or connections to regional councilors or being members of the right political party. To get the best for Niagara we need to hire the best.
I write this at a time when our current regional council has spent several meetings talking about whether it was fair and honest how they went about hiring the individual who is the top civil servant in the entire region and who is responsible for all the thousands of employees beneath him. Let’s take a step back and ask is he qualified? Did he deserve this job on merit? Should he be managing an organization with a billion dollar budget?
I am of the opinion that he is not qualified for the job he holds. I leave it to the evidence in front of everyone to decide whether the process in hiring him was fair and honest.
Many of our current Regional Councillors have done little to ensure that merit, non-partisanship and professionalism are the key criteria used in hiring the top employee and all employees at the Niagara Region. This duty to hire the best for our residents has not been fulfilled by the current Regional Council.
When an organization does not hire the most capable people for their jobs and hires without a fair and honest process, the good candidates stop applying for jobs at the organization. A vicious circle is created and mediocre becomes the standard at the organization.
If I am elected as a Regional Councillor I will ensure that the mandate is and will always be that all employees are hired based on non-partisanship, merit and professionalism. We want the best people for the job so that our residents get the best services for their tax dollars. People will want to apply for jobs at the Niagara Region, as they know Niagara is the best place to live and the Region is a great and fair place to work.
This seems obvious but over the last number of years it has not been to the current Regional Council.
Niagara deserves better!
Vote for me. Let’s bring positive change to the Region. Let’s put the Niagara residents first!
As a refresher, here is a link to the latest article by the St. Catharines Standard which outlines the alleged tainted hiring practices at the Niagara Region.
Over the next two months, I thought it would be good to let people know what I think are some of the key issues facing Regional Council.
I find that often people wonder what sorts of things are being done at Regional Council and how they actually impact our lives in Niagara.
One of the things the Regional government manages is Niagara Public Health. The Public Health group of professionals look after beach water testing, food inspections, and finding solutions to make each resident more physically fit and healthy. This includes the fight against drug addiction.
I would like to begin my thoughts on the issue of Opioid addiction in Niagara. This has been in the news lately, as the new Ontario government has put on hold the introduction of harm reduction (supervised drug-use) centres including one planned for St. Catharines.
If elected I will make the fight against opioid abuse in Niagara front and centre. In 2017, there were 521 opioid-related emergency room visits, 123 hospitalizations and 76 deaths, just in Niagara. This was a 65% increase over 2016 stats.
Regional and municipal governments in Niagara have been combating opioid addiction for a number of years and I applaud them for their efforts. But we need to do more. Niagara, especially Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, are well above the provincial average in the opioid epidemic. As a community, we need to put more emphasis, more time and more money toward fighting this. We need to give our professional staff in public health more resources to educate the public on the harm of over using prescription drugs and to help those already facing addiction. We need to assist them in building an ecosystem (a team) that will consist of the police, fire fighters, doctors, hospitals, our education system, the province, the municipalities, paramedics, social workers and more to fight this problem.
We need to do this not only to help save the lives of these addicted individuals but to help our community prosper.
In a recent article, my friends at Deloitte looked at strategies for stemming the opioid epidemic in the US. They mentioned many staggering facts such as:
What I would do?
I wish I had a simple solution to all of this.
I would continue to encourage all of our various lines of services to work in tandem to create an ecosystem strategy and give it a high priority and the funding that is needed. I would lobby the provincial government to allow us to open the harm reduction centre. I would ask the province to consider the creation of a prescription database of known abusers and have doctors check it. On the local front I would encourage the unwanted prescription medication drop-off kiosks that have been created. I would encourage the distribution of Naloxone kits to our front line staff to help fight overdoses. I would make public education and awareness of opioid abuse a centre of our public health system.
In the end my biggest commitment would be to make our approach to this epidemic a key strategy of Niagara Regional Council.
Using a team of professional staff, community volunteers and the council itself we can change the course of so many residents’ lives and help Niagara prosper.