You remember that Christmas stop motion version of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer? Sure you do with the dentist elf and the abominable snowman who bounces. In that version of Rudolf there was an island of misfit toys who were left behind every Christmas because no one wanted to play with them. London is a lot like that island right now and the misfit toys are the people who are left behind and unemployed by forces outside of their control. Even todays unemployment number of 7.9% , down from 8.3%, on this surface looks like good news but the reason the unemployment # is lower is that many gave up looking for work. The number of people with jobs dropped by 1300.
Jacob, not his real name, is a community minded guy who shows up at to help at community events, he helps promote community events and causes, he is often there to lend a helping hand but Jacob is now unemployed and has been for a long time.
Jacob has a wife with a serious illness and they’re going to have to split up so she can qualify and get her medication from Ontario Disability Support Payment ( ODSP). Jacob owes $4000.00 for the medication she needs as it is. Jacob is going to have to sell his house because he can’t afford it anymore. Jacob is at the end of his rope despite having tech skills and a will do/can do attitude.
Then there’s Cynthia, not her real name, a mom of two and someone who is passionate about London. She’s been looking for work for 2 years and has applied at many positions. She has a post secondary education and is well written and well spoken but Cynthia can not get ahead.
Then there’s Billy. Billy, not his real name, is again involved in making London a better place. He is well regarded among a number of our cities communities leaders but can not get a job in London. He has skills in a number of areas but he too cannot get ahead.
We all know someone like this right? Someone who’s been through a hard time, someone who’s been left behind, someone with talent and ability that can’t seem to get ahead. You know this person right? But the underlying question is what are we doing about it? What are we doing to help our neighbours and friends? What are we asking of our governments of all levels? What are we asking of the businesses in our communities when times get tough?
This is the new normal in London. The new normal because the economy is not improving, our city leaders are trying to deal with forces that are outside their control and the result is more and more Londoners going to the food-bank, desperately looking for work, or giving up and leaving the workforce. This cannot be changed overnight. it cannot be changed easily. But it can be changed.
But it can be changed. We need to start with us, the people of London. Employers might add one job. Neighbors might pass along info about employment they know about. Our Local banks could find a way of helping those who’ve lost their jobs to hold on to their houses. Our provincial government might find away to let Jacobs wife get the medication she needs without them having to split up.
In the end do you want to live on island of misfit toys? No? Then figure out a way to help, because this is about all of us. Push on our governments and chip in to find a place for our unemployed because it’s not toys we’re talking about but your neighbors.