Youth Underemployment: skills ‘mismatch’ doesn’t tell the whole story

by Rural Ontario Institute 16. July 2014 16:22

Stats Canada released a report examining the proportion of young men and women in Canada who are "overqualified" for their job, with a focus on university graduates. 

The study compared education credentials to the level of job skills required and measured overqualification as the proportion of individuals with a university degree working in jobs requiring a high school diploma between 1991 and 2011. 

According to this measure, 18% of both male and female university graduates aged 25 to 34 were overqualified in 2011. These proportions have changed little since 1991, despite the large increase in the supply of university graduates over the period. 

The main reason cited in the report for the current unemployment and underemployment rates among youth is the “skills mismatch” between those looking for work and the jobs are open. However, this misses an important point brought up recently at a rural forum organized by ROI that explored the issue of youth unemployment. 

Speaking in Brantford to a full house, Francis Fong, Senior Economist with TD Bank believes that a big part of the issue is that employers have dramatically reduced their investment in training employees. Traditionally, employers would provide on-the-job training for new recruits. However, Fong notes that companies are now spending 40% less per employee for job training than they did 20 years ago. Given the current market conditions, there is an expectation that new hires are job-ready on arrival. To view a copy of Francis Fong’s presentation, click on the link below.

Young workers are always the hardest hit during economic downturns. The fact that job prospects don’t (on-the-surface, at least) appear worse for recent graduates than at other times in history probably doesn’t provide much comfort to struggling young job seekers in the market today. However, one positive takeaway message demonstrated by history is that as the economic cycle plays out, youth employment opportunities do improve …eventually.

Francis Fong - Economic Challenges Facing Youth - Feb 11 2014.pdf (257.87 kb)

New Mandatory Training for Health and Safety includes the Nonprofit Sector

by Rural Ontario Institute 11. July 2014 10:59

Effective July 1, 2014 employers in Ontario need to have all workers and supervisors complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program. This is in response to the new Occupaional Health and Safety Act Regulation. The non-profit sector is included in these regulations. Training can be done online or by using the workbook provided and is a straightforward process to ensure staff is up-to-date. If your organization already does training, check the execptions section to see if you qualify.

The Ministry of Labour has developed a free training package including workbooks and e-Learning modules.  Materials will be available in multiple languages very soon.  Go to for more details.  


Small hospitals are not "mini" versions of large hospitals - and need to be treated differently

by Rural Ontario Institute 12. June 2014 12:35

Guest blog from Dr. Sarah Newbury, Chief of Staff of Wilson Memorial General Hospital, Marathon, ON

Mary is a 75 year old woman for whom I have been the family physician for the past 15 years.  When I received her mammogram report 10 years ago which identified a cancer in her breast, she entered an active phase of care. Following her mastectomy at the regional tertiary centre, she began her chemotherapy, almost all of which was delivered locally in our outpatient department under the guidance of the oncologist in Thunder Bay and with my local supervision. During her visits for chemotherapy her labwork was drawn by the lab tech she has known for 20 years and the chemo itself was delivered by a nurse who has been part of our hospital for 25 years.   When her COPD worsened a few years ago and she had a number of admissions in the year for her poor breathing, I saw her daily in hospital as her family physician, and at her bedside nursing care was provided by familiar nurses, several of whom she has known for years. Now she is developing dementia, and while I continue to see her in the clinic regularly, it will not be long before she is admitted to the chronic care ward of our hospital where I anticipate that I, and the nursing team that she knows, will continue to care for her in that familiar setting through that phase of her life’s story.

Mary is just one example of the many, many people in small communities served by community based family physicians working in small local hospitals. These citizens of small rural communities receive their hospital care in a familiar setting from a care team that they often know well through overlapping community circles, and that they trust to provide high quality, local, continuous, comprehensive care.

In the current era, as across the system we work to try to contain costs and create a sustainable health care system, there is great focus on the hospital environment. We talk about “hospitals” as though there are varying sizes of the same institution – small hospitals simply being miniature versions of large hospitals. But small hospitals are very different than their large urban counterparts in many ways.

The large hospital delivers secondary and tertiary level care – by its nature episodic and consultative with specialization within and between institutions. Small hospitals in rural settings are, by contrast, largely extensions of the primary care relationship with predominantly generalist family physicians providing comprehensive care across the spectrum of illness and in the context of the continuous physician patient relationship. In small communities, the small hospital serves as a support for the primary care doctor-patient relationship when the care required cannot be managed in office or home setting.

The need for added layers of “navigators” and “care coordination tools” are much less important when the small hospital provides the single point of entry to the system for such things as urgent after hours care, telemedicine, in-patient, chronic, obstetrical and palliative care and is often the home of many community based services as well.

When I consider an effective system, I believe that patients want a system built on good therapeutic relationships, a system that is easy to navigate and provides high quality, timely care. Health care providers want a system that is efficient for them to work within, that values their role and that allows them to provide high quality care within their scope of practice. Administrators of the system also want an efficient system that provides high quality, coordinated care of good value.

We need to see and understand the relationships that small hospitals have to their communities differently. The small hospital extends the primary care relationship in a way that enriches and supports the potential for high quality care.  In Damariscotta Maine, (population 2218) which ranked most highly on one survey of US hospital safety this year, the staff attributed their good track record to the fact that the patients that they care for are their neighbours and their friends.  

The relationships that are at the heart of small communities are at the heart of the work of small hospitals, too. Our small hospitals need to be seen through a different lens than our large urban hospitals, because the work that we do and the context of the primary care relationship through which we do much of it is different, and is efficient and valuable. We need to support small communities to anchor services in and around the hospital environment, continuing to build on the relationship the hospital has to the community and the relationships that patients have to the health care providers who serve them.


The reality of rurality

by Rural Ontario Institute 12. June 2014 10:51

Guest blog from Janet Tufts, Director, Community Partnerships & Investment, United Way London & Middlesex

Last year, United Way London & Middlesex released the findings of a comprehensive research study that assessed the social and economic needs of residents in Middlesex County. The results, or major themes, were not all that surprising. In fact, they were similar to the issues United Way has been so committed to addressing through our Community Impact Agenda, and that we see in the “big city” – poverty, mental health and the challenges faced by people making difficult life transitions.

But what was interesting in the findings was the realization that these increasingly complex and troubling issues are intensified by what we have coined, the reality of rurality. The reality of a lack of services and accessibility, a lack of information about existing services, transportation challenges, the need for confidentiality and safety, and inadequate technology.

We heard about these issues from a myriad of people – teachers and school administrators, police, health and service providers, health administrators, employment counselors, elected officials, and most importantly, the residents themselves – through focus groups, individual interviews, panel discussions, community conversations and a survey. 

Solving serious social issues takes time, innovation and of course, money. We live in an environment with limited dollars and competing priorities, and while United Way is committed to a better community for all, we cannot do this work alone. That’s why we have called upon key influencers to read the report and keep it top-of-mind. We hope it will be used to stimulate more meaningful discussions, make better-informed decisions, and advance social and economic services to improve the quality of life for County residents.  

To download the full report and/or executive summary, click here.

For more information, please contact Janet Tufts at or 519-438-1723 x 223. 


Green Party response to questions of importance to rural Ontario

by Rural Ontario Institute 9. June 2014 10:04

The PDF attached below is the response received from Jessica Higgins, Policy and Candidate Support, Green Party of Ontario

Green party response - Rural Ontario Institute.pdf (392.94 kb)


Ontario PC's response to questions of importance to rural Ontario

by Rural Ontario Institute 9. June 2014 09:36

This 'blog' is the content of an email received from Carly Luis, Manager, Stakeholder Relations, Ontario PC party 

I hope this email finds you well.  We very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet with you to discuss Rural Ontario Institute’s priorities for Ontario.

So you know, the Ontario PC campaign is responding to surveys by pointing stakeholders to our Million Jobs Plan in a directed letter.  We are proud to have a very focused plan to bring jobs back to Ontario, and we want to be sure to point organizations to our platform.  The PC Party firmly believes with a strong and vibrant economy, all Ontarians stand to benefit.

We know there are elements of the Million Jobs Plan that are important to the Rural Ontario Institute’s membership.  The Ontario PC Party has made a commitment to create jobs in growth in rural Ontario. In particular, Ontario needs growth in the agricultural sector to get our province out of its jobs crisis. We are proposing to help Ontario’s rural communities through a number of actions. 

The average farmer annually spends about 154 hours filling out government forms. An Ontario PC government would eliminate unneeded government regulations, reducing the total number of rules and regulations by one-third over three years. 

Renewed infrastructure in rural Ontario is badly needed.  We will develop a Ontario Transportation Trust fund, which will enable us to dedicate up to $2 billion per year after we balance the budget for infrastructure investment throughout Ontario and to those rural communities who need it most.  We would also distribute gas tax revenue more fairly so that every community gets a share. 

Our Million Jobs Plan would create good paying apprenticeship jobs by eliminating restrictions on the skilled trades.  In order to do this we would do away with cumbersome and outdated apprenticeship rules that limit the number of opportunities, make trades training a community college course, like any other, and eliminate bureaucracy that taxes tradespeople and limits job creation.  We also thought the Rural Ontario Institute might enjoy a video Mr. Hudak prepared related to skilled trades:    

Rural Ontario is increasingly burdened by escalating hydro costs.  We will control energy costs, in part by eliminating the excessive bureaucracy, unreasonable rules and lavish subsidies that have driven up hydro bills.   Our Million Jobs Plan will work hard to make the hydro system more economical for rural Ontarians. 

As the campaign comes to a close we are diligently compiling information we receive from outside groups, so we have a record and build familiarity around your issues should we form government. Please feel free to send us any additional information that you believe would be important to include for our records.  


PC letter from Tim Hudak Rural Ontario Institute Response.pdf (617.02 kb)

Liberal Response to ROI's Questions of Importance to Rural Ontario

by Rural Ontario Institute 5. June 2014 10:42

This 'blog' is the email received from Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party Kathleen Wynne on June 3, 2014

Dear Mr. Black: 

Thank you for your letter and questionnaire regarding the Ontario Liberal Party’s plans to work with our partners to continue and strengthen our commitment to rural areas and small towns. I welcome this opportunity to respond to your questions.

On June 12th the people of Ontario will make a critical choice about our future. Choosing the Ontario Liberals means taking a stand for jobs, for growth, and for keeping our recovery on course. Ontario Liberals will continue to work to create opportunity for all by investing in people, in transit and infrastructure, and in supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate. We will create a new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to give you a more secure retirement, and continue the investments in health care, education, and those Ontarians who just need a boost, or some special supports, to get by and get ahead.

As reflected in my answers, Ontario Liberals stand firmly behind our rural partners. I am heartened by the progress we have made together. We hope to have the support of your organization on June 12th.

Please accept my best wishes.


Kathleen Wynne

Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party



Liberal Response_ROI.pdf (337.53 kb)

Rural Transportation is hot topic in Ontario

by Rural Ontario Institute 29. May 2014 14:17

About 20% of people in Ontario live in small towns and rural areas - about the same number that live in Toronto. However, everyone in Ontario hears about transportation needs in Toronto: the TTC, new subway stops and gridlock. But rarely does the topic of transportation for those OUTSIDE of metro areas get raised. By definition, rural means there is greater distance between people. However, rural people still need to get to work, to doctors appointments and to school, and many ruralites have access to a vehicle. But the ones that don't - including the young, elderly and low-income - have very few options.

But there is amazing work being done in rural Ontario. So, the Rural Ontario Institute, in partnership with Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, created the "Accelerating Rural Transportation Solutions" project. The objective of the project is to share knowledge about effective rural transportation models already in existence, look at the economic feasibility of cost-shared systems and create opportunities for peer-to-peer discussion and learning.

It's a three-phase project: the first was a series of webinars that can be viewed here, creation of case studies and analysis of cost-shared rural transportation models and finally, hosting three forums throughout Ontario to present the information and discuss it among a wide and diverse group of interested stakeholders.

The forums are being held:

June 16, 2014 in Walkerton

June 20, 2014 in Orangeville

June 23, 2014 in Brockville

This project received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Priorities for the Provincial Election

by Rural Ontario Institute 9. May 2014 12:33

Questions of importance to rural and small town Ontario 2014

ROI received a very strong response when we asked subscribers and followers to complete an online survey of rural priorities so we could ask questions of the provincial political parties. Nothing like an election to focus attention! Over 200 people responded.

Once the top ten priorities emerged, we framed a set of questions that any rural citizen could use in dialogue with their local candidates. We encourage everyone to be informed on where their candidates stand on these broad questions, as well as on matters of regional and local significance. Questions are available here.

We have sent the questions to each of the four main political parties, providing an opportunity to articulate their rural platform and proposed initiatives specifically around these priority topics.  We will post their responses here – stay tuned.  

The top five priorities emerging from our survey respondents were:

* Job opportunities

* Healthcare: access to quality medical services nearby

* Youth employment/underemployment

* Services for aging population:  aging in place/home care/housing

* The cost of electric power

Full results are available here

Let's find out how each political party plans to address rural priorities

by Rural Ontario Institute 5. May 2014 16:46

It looks like we are going to the polls on June 12. 

The Rural Ontario Institute wants each of the political parties to articulate how their platforms address rural priorities.To help formulate these “questions of importance to rural Ontario,” please take a moment to respond to this short survey and let us know what YOU think are the priorities.

Click here for the survey.

In order to be timely with these “questions of importance," please respond quickly – the survey will close on Wednesday May 7. And remember, this is by no means a scientific survey – we are sending it out to our 700+ subscribers and on Twitter and Facebook. Please feel free to share the link with other rural opinion leaders you know.