“We’re trying something different and I approve of it,” said Mayor François St-Amour of The Nation Municipality.
St-Amour’s comment was echoed by other mayors during the November 24 session of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR). The mayor reviewed a letter from Caroline Arcand, chief executive officer for Centre de Services à l’emploi Prescott-Russell Employment Services Centre (CSEPR), asking the UCPR to join a coalition of five local and regional economic development groups involved with a project to create a financial subsidy program aimed at helping Prescott-Russell businesses attract potential employees from outside of the region to fill both skilled and unskilled labour positions.
The CSEPR, Prescott-Russell Community Development Corp., Hawkesbury Industrial Investment Association, the Eastern Ontario Training Board, and the Prescott-Russell Chamber of Commerce all pooled their resources to create $125,000 employment incentive fund. The CSEPR will administer the fund and provide Prescott-Russell businesses and non-profit groups with $1000 incentive payments that they can offer prospective employees to encourage them to accept full-time positions. The present incentive fund will be able to help attract a maximum of 125 potential employees to the region.
The CSEPR asked the UCPR to join the project and contribute another $25,000 to the incentive fund. UCPR council agreed to the proposal with a condition that the UCPR’s contribution will not become available for disbursement until the program has confirmed that 100 new employees have both accepted the employment incentive and agreed to accept a full-time position with a local business or non-profit group in Prescott-Russell.
When that goal is reached, the UCPR contribution will become available to the incentive fund, creating the potential for attracting 150 new workers in total to the region.
The employment incentive fund is meant to complement but not replace existing federal and provincial employment aid programs. Once the fund is exhausted, there are no plans to renew it. The agencies involved in the project are working on other plans and projects to continue dealing with the local labour situation.