Ron took a moment to read thank you cards from the Gift of Grace Kitchen and the Coldwater Food Bank who were both very grateful for the large food donations, thanks to the drive.

He introduced Garfield, whose long history of public service started as a councillor in Coldwater and who has been everywhere all the time ever since.  Ron said he felt Garfield made a difference as our representative and he felt it was appreciated.

Garfield said one of the first things you learn at Queen's Park is to talk for quite a while without being familiar with the subject but he would try to keep it a little shorter.  It looks like the NDP will help pass the budget and there won't be an election this spring.  It would have been his 5th, he's been ther 14 years which have gone by so fast.  It takes a lot of effort - he figures he attends 1,000 events a year.  It's sort of a tradition that he and Bruce are carrying on - people know them and, if they appreciate your attendance one year they ask you back while other people are asking you to new events so it grows.

As a plumber in a former life he is one of three people there with a trades background and, as a result, it doesn't register with most as an issue, but Hudak asked him to take on the roll of Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship critic and he's enjoying the change from being critic for Public Safety.  He thinks we may be short 360,000 people in the trades soon - from hairdressers to plumbers.  First, people aren't taking the careers on and second, lots of people will be retiring over the next years.  And there are few efforts being made to replace them.  We have been relying on the temporary foreign worker program but the RBC mess put the clamps on it.  There are people in the pipeline but they can't get here now.  They want to come and they want to work.  He doesn't think the College of Trades is the solution.  Another level of management and bureaucracy when we already have the colleges and apprentice programs in place.

He's been travelling across Ontario meeting with the people involved and he thinks one of the biggest problems is that people, students and their parents, don't recognize the amazing opportunities available in these good paying jobs.  He's compiling suggestions and recommendations that he hopes will become a plank in the next election platform.  He's especially interested in private public partnerships and cited a welding class in Thunder Bay that's equipped completely by local enterprise who promptly hire all the graduates - 61 this year, 20 of whom are aboriginals.  He's been on a road construction site in Sudbury and he was told the only other politicians that showed up were only there to cut a ribbon.  As technology takes over, whether it's computers in cars that need maintenance or sophisticated road equipment, it's more important than ever that operators be trained.  But the schools have to keep up and they need their equipment replaced and their teachers re-invigorated.

20% of those under 24 are unemployed and, though we need the foreign workers, we should be training our own.  We have the facilities at the Colleges, the union training spaces but students don't know about the opportunities that would take them out of the mall and turn them into taxpayers.  Parents are the big hurdle - they think white collar is more prestigious.  He's hoping to create more awareness and move to more productivity.

Ron thanked Garfield and presented his certificate of donation to Polio Plus.