TeleTech will lay off more than 400 staff at its Orillia facility by the end of July, Mayor Ron Stevens has confirmed. Stevens said he learned of the coming job cuts during a telephone call from the company’s Denver, Co. headquarters on Tuesday morning. He said that, as of the end of July, the call centre would no longer be fielding calls on behalf of its current client, which “will be leaving and relocated. “They have also informed us that they have a temporary client in there for awhile to pick up some of the slack, and they are hoping to expand it into a much longer contract,” he said. TeleTech is in talks with a large company in the hope of securing new work for the Orillia operation, he said. “Hopefully they are successful in their negations,” Stevens added. “If they are, that client will be moved into that Orillia centre.” Stevens said he was told 472 people would lose their jobs at the end of July. “There will be roughly 140 left,” he said. TeleTech in 2002 signed a 10-year lease on a 43,000 square foot building to be owned and managed by the city – at a cost to the municipality of about $3.4 million. “They have every intention of trying to keep that centre open,” Stevens added. “They have a very high opinion of the people who work there. It is just an unfortunate situation that they are hoping to be able to resolve by having another client. They feel very hopeful that they can make this happen.” Stevens attributed the coming job losses to the economic downturn. “Like any other corporation, their client is an American-based company, and their economy is in pretty dire straits,” he added. Stevens said he does not regret council’s decision to give TeleTech a break on leasing costs for the city-owned building that houses the local operation. “Absolutely not,” he added. “I am not going to say that is the end of TeleTech in Orillia. I am very hopeful they will be able to negotiate this thing.”
During Victoria Day Weekend celebrations, The Blue Mountains Fire Prevention Officer, A.J. Lake warns residents and visitors that safety must be a primary concern when it comes to consumer fireworks display Lake explains that 98 per cent of the numerous fireworks related injuries reported are caused by backyard displays, and 72 per cent of those are from small firecrackers, rockets and sparklers. Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and can cause blindness or ignite child’s clothing. Lake warns that sparklers should not be used by children under eight years old and should always be closely monitored. "The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend public fireworks displays," said Lake. Should you choose to have a family or neighbourhood fireworks display, Lake advises the following precautions. * Those under 18 should not use fireworks without adult supervision * Choose a wide, clear site away from overhead obstacles with spectators standing in the perimeter * Do not fire in windy conditions * Read all instructions on the fireworks. * Use a good firing base, such as pail, boxes filled with earth or sand * Bury fireworks half their length if they have no standing base, unless the labelling on the fireworks directs otherwise. Set them at a 10-degree angle, pointing away the people * Never light fireworks in your hand or hold lighted fireworks in your hand, other than a sparkler * Light carefully. Always light the fuse at its tip * Keep water nearby. Dispose of used fireworks (including debris) in a pail of water or return to vendor * Keep spectators 20 meters away from the fireworks firing area * Never try to relight fireworks that did not go off. Never try to fix fireworks that are defective. Wait at least 30 minutes before approaching such fireworks * Keep fireworks in a cool, dry, ventilated place and in a locked container, away from children The Town of The Blue Mountains does not permit the firing of fireworks on public beaches or parkland. An application must be submitted to the TBM Fire Dept if consumer fireworks are to be fired on properties zoned other than residential.
MPP Bill Murdoch thinks if enough people sign petitions opposing the harmonization of the provincial sales tax with the federal sales tax that Premier Dalton McGuinty will change his mind and dump the plan. Murdoch’s petition has been circulating around the riding for a couple weeks now. The petition opposes the provincial government’s plans to harmonize the PST with the GST. The McGuinty government put that proposal in its recent budget and plans implement the harmonization on July 1, 2010. Critics of the plan say it is one of the largest tax grabs in the history of the province. The harmonized sales tax would add 8% (the GST is 5% and the PST is 8%) to the cost of a host of goods and services currently not taxed by the PST. "It’s a tax grab. This is just another one of their schemes," Murdoch said in an interview last Friday morning. "The concept sounds good, but the devil is in the details," he said. The new HST would apply to newspapers, funerals, gym memberships, meals under $4, gasoline, home heating fuel, tobacco, magazines, hair cuts, taxi fares, dry cleaning, legal fees and golf green fees. Books, children’s clothing and feminine hygiene products would remain exempt. The McGuinty government has promised families earning under $160,000 a total of $1,000 a year in tax rebates to help offset increased costs of other goods. Families would begin receiving $333 cheques on June 10, 2010, with the third and final cheque due on June 11, 2011 – just three months before the next provincial election. Murdoch said the $1,000 yearly amount is a joke compared to the cost of just about everything rising by 8%. "That increase in the cost of gas for your car or truck will eat up that $1,000 pretty quickly," said Murdoch, who expressed a lot of disappointment with the federal Conservative government in Ottawa in being complicit with the HST plan. "It’s a joint effort between the province and federal government. The Liberals in Ontario are in bed with the Conservatives in Ottawa. The feds are paying the province to do this. That’s where they’re getting the money for those $1,000 cheques. They’re trying to buy people off," he said. Murdoch said he hopes to gather enough signatures on his petition before the government has to pass another Bill to make the HST official. "I believe they will have to pass another Bill to be able to enforce this," he said. Murdoch said his petition has certainly touched a nerve. "The response has been overwhelming. On the first day I had 120 people come into the office. People are out there looking for it. I haven’t had anyone phone my office that is in favour of the HST," he said. Opposition members around the province have copies of the petition. Murdoch said Liberal members also have copies, but he wondered if the Liberal backbench MPPs "have the guts to present them to the legislature." The MPP said he continues to be surprised that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce are in favour of the HST. "I’ve heard from members of the Owen Sound Chamber that are definitely against this," he said. The Meaford Chamber of Commerce plans to discuss the HST at its next regular meeting. Murdoch left copies of the petition at The Express office for local residents to sign if they are interested in expressing their opposition to the HST.