Min­is­ter de­scribes vol­un­teers as ‘so­cial fab­ric’ of com­mu­ni­ties

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

Vol­un­teers are key con­trib­u­tors to the suc­cess of gov­ern­ment and or­ga­ni­za­tions such as re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment boards like the Mariner Re­source Op­por­tu­ni­ties Net­work (M-RON), the prov­ince’s min­is­ter of In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs told a Carbonear au­di­ence late last month.

Dave De­nine was guest speaker for M-RON’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing held Oct. 28 at Fong’s.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that, “be­ing on a board like yours can take up a lot of time and en­ergy, with very lit­tle thanks from the com­mu­nity,” the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the vol­un­teer and non-profit sec­tor, said he wants to “change the level of recog­ni­tion for our vol­un­teers.”

De­scrib­ing vol­un­teers as the “so­cial fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ties,” the min­is­ter said, “vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions are vi­tal to our qual­ity of life.”

Trav­el­ling around the prov­ince with the vol­un­tary and non­profit sec­re­tar­iat, the Mount Pearl MHA said he at­tended meet­ings organized by the ru­ral sec­re­tar­iat’s re­gional coun­cils. “We met with com­mu­nity leaders to give them an op­por­tu­nity to meet the min­is­ter who rep­re­sents their in­ter­ests in gov­ern­ment.”

They ex­plained their chal­lenges and suc­cesses and talked about is­sues such as in­sur­ance; frus­tra­tions with ac­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion and fi­nan­cial re­sources, and the de­mo­graphic pres­sures on their or­ga­ni­za­tions.

De­nine noted the ses­sions also gave him the op­por­tu­nity to ask them how to reach young peo­ple in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“We wanted to find out how we could help and what gov­ern­ment could do bet­ter. The re­sults have (al­ready) been com­mu­ni­cated back to the par­tic­i­pants and will be pub­lished when we have vis­ited ev­ery ru­ral sec­re­tar­iat re­gion. The ad­vice and ob­ser­va­tions have helped us set pri­or­i­ties and will guide our plan­ning over the com­ing years.” Re­mark­able num­bers Ap­prox­i­mately 197,000 vol­un­teers con­trib­ute 35 mil­lion hours of valu­able un­paid time to their com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions. Vol­un­teer and non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions also em­ploy al­most 23,000 paid work­ers.

De­scrib­ing those fig­ures as “re­mark­able,” De­nine said, “strength­en­ing the re­la­tion­ship with the sec­tor and en­sur­ing the peo­ple who work and vol­un­teer with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve,” are just a cou­ple of his pri­or­i­ties as min­is­ter.

Point­ing out a large por­tion of th­ese vol­un­teers and paid work­ers serve on re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment boards, like M-RON, De­nine com­mended them “on your tremendous con­tri­bu­tion,” and en­cour­aged them to “con­tinue do­ing the great work that RED (re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment) boards do.” Labour Mar­ket Study Be­sides its an­nual re­port, M-RON also re­leased its 99-page Labour Mar­ket Study. The “Labour Mar­ket and Hu­man Re­sources Anal­y­sis 2008-’09” gave an over­view of the cur­rent state of labour mar­ket con­di­tions in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

Out­go­ing board chair­man, Clyde D. Wells noted: “While the re­gion’s econ­omy re­mains strong and busi­ness in­vest­ment con­tin­ues to grow, our Labour Mar­ket Study de­picts the need for plan­ning to fill up­com­ing va­can­cies in the var­i­ous sec­tors through­out the re­gion.”

Re­fer­ring to a “ma­jor shift in our labour mar­ket ac­tiv­i­ties,” Wells pointed out, “while em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties have in­creased tremen­dously, we con­tinue to lose many of our younger res­i­dents.

“While it ap­pears the eco­nomic down­turn seems to be in re­cov­ery..., we are still be­ing di­rectly af­fected by the labour mar­ket sit­u­a­tion in Al­berta where wages are ex­tremely high and job op­por­tu­ni­ties are plen­ti­ful.”

As he nears the end of his own term as chair­man, Wells told the new in­com­ing board he looks for­ward to help­ing them out in any way he can.

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