City to create task force to attract remote workers

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By Nick Seebruch
City to create task force to attract remote workers

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council moved to further explore ways to attract remote workers to the city.

At their council meeting on Monday, Feb. 24, Council passed a motion moved by Councillor Justin Towndale to create a task force whose aim would be to attract remote workers.

At a meeting in January, Councillor Towndale had asked administration for a report on a strategy to promote Cornwall as a place for remote workers. While Towndale acknowledged that the report was well researched, he felt it did not provide an adequate action plan.

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“Unfortunately this isn’t what I asked for,” Towndale said. “I am a little disappointed even though this is a really nice summary and a very complete summary, but it is not what I asked for. Usually when we receive a report that affects one of our strategic priority it is highlighted in our report, that was not done in this case.”

Attracting new workers to the city is one pillar of the City of Cornwall’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2022.

Division Manager for Economic Development Bob Peters, whose department generated the report in question, stated that attracting remote workers was a part of his department’s overall worker recruitment strategy.

“We are currently targeting all young workers,” Peters said. “We are going out where young people are looking for new career options.”

Peters went on to explain that he currently did not have a budget for a remote worker attraction strategy, which is why such a recommendation was not included in the report.

Councillor Eric Bergeron stated that a budget and a strategy was what the city needs if it is to keep up in this growing market.

“We are looking for very specifically a budget and a plan on attracting remote workers,” he said. “This is a competition, and this does not show me that we are keeping up.”

Councillor Dean Hollingsworth pointed out that there were more traditional employers in Cornwall who were struggling to fill employment vacancies, but Bergeron countered that remote workers are not just a way to fill jobs, but to also grow Cornwall’s population.

“We are not talking about if remote workers are necessary, it is a part of our strategic plan,” he said. “It is not part time work, it is people who have jobs. I think a task force is necessary to help attract people here.”

Mayor Bernadette Clement endorsed the idea and pointed out that a remote worker is more than just someone filling a job.

“These remote workers can come with spouses, they can come with kids who will become Cornwall kids and might grow up to fill those vacant jobs,” she said.

Council will now begin to seek out members of the community to serve on the task force alongside members of Council.

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