Hey! “Plus points” for local hiring, purchases!

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DISPATCHES FROM THE 148
by FRED RYAN, Publisher Emeritus

Anyone from the Pontiac will know that “initiatives” to improve our economy, create jobs, and shore up local businesses come and go like the seasons. Right now under the leadership of our new MP and MNA, the MRC and local business

DISPATCHES FROM THE 148
by FRED RYAN, Publisher Emeritus

Anyone from the Pontiac will know that “initiatives” to improve our economy, create jobs, and shore up local businesses come and go like the seasons. Right now under the leadership of our new MP and MNA, the MRC and local business
people are busy on a “SWAT team” to re-launch our economy. Great stuff!
In the meantime, there is one cost-free measure which MP Amos and MNA Fortin could also put their shoulders to, and which would yield jobs and support local businesses starting the day after its proclamation. That measure is this: the MRC and municipal governments, all federal and provincial department offices, as well as the local offices of large corporations (like banks) be freed from restrictions on local hiring and purchasing.
Certain restrictions are harmful to us, and lifting them would bring substantial benefits, unlike in stronger economies. Since our economy is so fragile, small benefits can have extraordinarily large effects. Granting the MRC Pontiac, and all the economic actors within the MRC, a waver from hiring and purchasing requirements would be massively helpful. 
Take hiring policies. Our political and economic leaders, when hiring, would be required to give “plus points” to local people, to residents who know the geographic area and the people whom they are expected to serve. This would not be a laissez-faire policy; local applicants automatically get “plus points” just for being local.
There is no substitute for experience and education, clearly. But this is where local applicants are often discounted. I know, after thirty-plus years of employing people, that experience (and training) often give employees bad habits, as well as good. These bad habits and expectations (especially in those from large cities) have to be unlearned, which requires time away from their jobs. This probably takes as long as bringing local people up to speed – so there is little loss of efficiency in this
proposal.
This is not to suggest that education or experience be discounted in any way. The proposal is to give all local people who apply for municipal, provincial, or federal government jobs in the Pontiac a boost. Local people bring something that well-educated folks from Montreal might not, and that should be credited.
While this clearly makes sense for those jobs which deal with, or effect, the local public, it should also apply even to jobs like collecting pine cones or highway repair. Locals are just as capable as folks from Maniwaki, where the cones go, and these “plus points” could often be a tie-breaker.
Governments (and corporations) can contribute to local development in many ways – the SWAT team is one – and that help can come in many ways, not just in granting money to projects. Having this waver from Quebec-imposed rules about hiring and purchasing is just one of these aids, but it would clearly keep promising local people here at home; it would give them jobs here; it would contribute their salaries and eventual pensions to the local economy.
Many corporations – the banks – do hire local folks, and good for them; they know it pays off. But these mandatory “plus points” apply to all jobs, not just the most basic. And it’s also an attitude: local people are good and are here for the long haul.
These benefits apply to purchasing, too – schools, hospital, the CLSCs and any federal office, and for big purchases, too. 
So let’s encourage Mr Fortin and Mr Amos to get us that waver, to get us mandatory “plus points” for local people and local purchases! 
(abawqp@videotron.ca)