Editorials - Oct. 13, 2023
Looking for answers
A recent headline on Global News highlighted another retailer giving up on London’s downtown core and closing. Susan Elgie, owner of Frankly Scarlett, a women’s fashion store, cited the challenges of homelessness, vandalism and drug addiction plaguing the area as the reason behind the closure. She felt unable to provide a safe work environment for her staff and clients, pointing out that in recent months it had become necessary to lock the door against intruders, which is a difficult situation for a retailer that relies on foot traffic.
The issues that downtown London are dealing with are not, unfortunately, an isolated case. As addiction disorders continue to rise, and poverty and homelessness cause an even wider swath of the population to become disillusioned with society, the same conditions exist in small towns and rural areas.
The causes behind homelessness, vandalism and drug addiction are as varied as the people who are suffering from them, requiring multiple agencies and levels of government to work together. There is no magic wand to wave, but multiple small steps can start to improve things, like the Northern Huron Connection Centre where several groups and organizations have come together to make an important, localized difference in the community and hopefully stem the impact that these conditions have on our area. – DS
Help is on the way
The federal and provincial governments have clearly seen the many benefits of programs to help keep farmers and their families healthy from a mental health perspective. On Tuesday, they announced a fresh $8 million investment into the Farmer Wellness Initiative, the In the Know program and the Guardian Network - all programs aimed at farmers and their families and delivered by the Ontario Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The mental health of farmers has been a hot topic in recent years as the job has continued to get more difficult and an at-times isolating profession became even more isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs presented a unique approach to a brand of mental health crisis being experienced by those working a difficult job with very particular mental health challenges. The uptake has been good, clearly, and the support will continue, boasted by a new promotional initiative to help spread the word throughout the community.
In recent years, the mental health of everyone, from young people to older populations has been at the forefront as COVID-19 took centre stage. How we would be affected mentally remained to be seen in the early days of the pandemic, but clearly it has taken its toll and continues to do so. That’s why programs like these, helping people with pinpoint precision based on who they are and what they do are so important. In a community like Huron County, which is home to so many farms and so many farmers, this is good news for everyone. – SL
A great harvest for all
A group in Simcoe recently organized an appreciation day for migrant farm workers whose time in Canada is winding down for another year. The Huron Farm Workers Ministry collaborated with The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO) to host the event, which aimed to show gratitude to the workers and provide them with valuable information about resources and rights in Canada.
Several other organizations also participated, including the Mexican Consulate, the Norfolk County Fire Department and major banks like CIBC and RBC. The AIDS Network and The Neighbourhood Organization had booths set up to provide information and assistance. Kitchener’s Big Jerk food truck was parked on-site with chefs offering Caribbean fare and fusion “jerk tacos” to feed the hungry crowd. Meal tickets were provided free of charge for the event’s honourees. London’s St. Aidan’s Anglican Church collected, refurbished and donated more than 100 bicycles, distributing them to any workers interested in acquiring new wheels. This initiative aimed to provide farm workers with a means of transportation and a way to socialize and unwind.
There were games, giveaways and “good vibes” at Simcoe’s Wellington Park that day. Non-farming community members coalesced with migrant workers to foster a greater sense of community and understanding between groups that don’t necessarily encounter one another very often. Gratitude was at the heart of the event. It was an opportunity for the community to acknowledge and honour the sacrifices made by these individuals. Many of them spend considerable time away from their families, working tirelessly to ensure a successful harvest in Canada. The event not only recognized their dedication, but also sought to create a sense of inclusion and support within the community.
Migrant farm workers are an important part of Ontario’s agricultural ecosystem. Showing them that they are appreciated is a good way to encourage them to keep coming back. – SBS