August 2, 1999

City overlooks local workers

Should local government use community tax dollars to award contracts to companies outside this area?

Marie Mentz, president of the North Okanagan Labour Council, says no and that's why she and the labour council disagree with a decision by the City of Kelowna to award a pay telephone contract to a new Surrey-based company.

"The key to a strong and healthy local economy is a good infrastructure that creates employment for local taxpayers," said Mentz. "Those workers, in turn, re-invest the dollars they earn back into the community."

Telecommunications industry newcomer Paytel Canada Inc. was contracted by the city recently to manage 25 pay phones on city property and premises.

"Instead of hiring qualified, local workers, the city has contracted the work out of area," said Mentz. "In seeking a short-term revenue boost, the city has overlooked the bigger economic picture."

While Paytel has no established local workforce to handle its fledgling payphone business, there are 711 experienced, taxpaying telephone industry workers in Kelowna the city is overlooking.

"Short-sighted politics like this could harm the city's long-term sustainability," said Mentz. "The North Okanagan Labour Council believes that local jobs are the key to creating a healthy, sustainable local economy.

"Local workers contribute to the city's tax base and economy. Contracting jobs out of town takes money - and jobs - away from the community."

Mentz also noted local telephone workers are well known for their charitable giving and volunteer efforts in the community. These efforts should also be supported and recognized by city hall.

The North Okanagan Labour Council urges Kelowna City Council to review this decision and support local workers and taxpayers.



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