Editorials - June 2, 2023
The sound of silence
With reports of an impending closure at the Wescast plant in Wingham, workers are left hanging. The union that represents the approximately 250 workers announced on Monday that the plant would be closing by the end of the year, but the company has been silent.
Wescast has been a foundry in Wingham for more than a century, manufacturing automotive exhaust manifolds exclusively now, but has been owned by a Chinese company for a decade. The loss of the plant will be an economic blow to the region, but will be devastating for the hundreds of families who will experience upheaval and uncertainty while they try to rebuild their lives. Mass layoffs and plant closures are never easy, but a lack of information and a tendency towards secrecy will get tongues wagging and rumours flying, none of which is any help to the employees who must make major decisions on their futures.
In addition to financial support, education and retraining plans, the community needs to be aware of the mental health strain that this puts on employees, partners and families. Losing one’s job is one of the most stressful situations that anyone will find themselves in. A good-paying job with union support is not easy to replace, especially in a rural area.
The employees of Wescast deserve all the information they need as soon as possible. By neither confirming nor denying the closure claimed by Unifor, the company is causing unnecessary stress. – DS
Meal fit for a king
Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions, Food Banks Canada, the Toronto Youth Cabinet and more are calling on the Ontario government to institute a universal, free breakfast and lunch program in schools across the province as food bank usage soars. The groups have written a letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce to that effect.
This bold proposal extends beyond the traditional understanding of care in the classroom, which has always been focused on keeping kids safe and teaching them effectively, preparing them for the years ahead. This proposal will be viewed by many as a responsibility that begins and ends in the home, but there is a way to consider this as an extension of care for children. And, in the vein of listening to the experts, if the teachers’ unions are calling for this step, when they are having to scratch and claw for so much with Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government, we owe it to them to take the proposal seriously.
The work of Ontario’s Student Nutrition Program is more like food bank relief, whereas this project would normalize food for students at schools and bring everyone to the same level on equal footing close to home. (The lead agency for the Student Nutrition Program for the region that includes Huron County, for example, is in Windsor.)
Much like a universal basic income program, which is decried by conservatives as the slippery slope to communism, some will shoot down ideas like this without considering their merits, insisting kids (and their parents) pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but hungry children will always need help and this might be the way. – SL
An erasure of culture
In a bittersweet farewell, the last Barn Dance Jamboree/Campout weekend came to a close in Blyth this past weekend, marking the end of an era. With resounding success, this final installment witnessed an extraordinary gathering of approximately 200 campers, over 600 attendees at the climactic Barn Dance show on Saturday night, and a remarkable congregation of more than 400 for Sunday’s Gospel Show.
The sheer talent showcased throughout the weekend was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Guided by skilled Master of Ceremonies and Barn Dance legend Jim Swan, a parade of professional traditional country musicians, graced the stage, captivating the audience with their remarkable artistry. From start to finish, fans young and old (disproportionately represented by the latter) reveled in a splendid weekend of Huron County culture and top-notch entertainment.
Congratulations to those responsible for this unforgettable gathering: Ruth and Gord Baxter, the indefatigable organizers who poured their hearts and souls into every aspect of the event. Their unwavering dedication, coupled with the steadfast support of the Barn Dance Historical Society Board of Directors and a regrettably diminishing supply of volunteers, ensured the success of this momentous occasion.
The final Barn Dance Jamboree/Campout not only provided an exceptional platform for showcasing extraordinary talent, but also served as a poignant reminder of the rich cultural heritage ingrained in Huron County. It fostered a sense of community and appreciation for the arts, while celebrating the unique accomplishments of the original CKNX Barn Dance broadcasters, whose impact cannot be overstated.
While the final notes of the Barn Dance Jamboree/Campout have faded, the echoes of its legacy are in danger of being lost. The closure of the Barn Dance Museum represents a void in Huron County’s collective memory and is an irreplaceable loss for future generations. – SBS