generating capacity? The debate over food being used as fuel has sparked innovation, such as the pro- duction of fuel from what remains in the field after a corn crop has been harvested. Inroads are being made in the development of wheat and corn stover or switchgrass as a biological basis for both biofuels and bioproducts. Combine residues with methane and watch out, Alberta! Theremay be gold in the fields of the Far East! Manure-generating methane could be very big. There are enough cows inPrescott- Russell – 55,000 at last count – to provide enoughmanure to create enough energy for 7,800 homes. Speaking of homes, for most farmers, their workplace is a bale toss from their home. However, farmers are a minority, as are home-based workers. There is a huge number of people who want to bring their work home with them and keep it there. Surveys have shown that 51 per cent of Canadians would use their own resources, such as their own personal computer, if they could work from home; 28 per cent indicated they would work longer hours, and 19 per cent said they would take a pay cut to be able to work from home. This home work concept is very appealing in this region where public tran- sit service is limited. High gas prices, concern about the environment and advanced technology help advance the case forworking remotely. However, studies also show that mana- gement resists this trend. Managers believe that employees may slack off, work schedules will be disrupted and security of company property would be jeopardized. Obviously, this is just the start of another labour-based debate. We have come a longway from the era of the 60-hour week. Happy Labour Day!

So, how’s the job going? As we prepare to celebrate Labour Day, we ought to take a break and reflect on how the lot of the masses has improved over the years, and what the future may hold. For starters, if you want to work, chan- ces are you can find some sort of job. At last report, the jobless rate in eastern Ontario was 9.3 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. However, go west, and prospects improve – in Ottawa, only about five per cent of the work force is looking for jobs. But youcannot be choosy. It isnot always easy finding employment in your chosen career field or landing a job that is suited to your particular set of skills. The average weekly wage, according to the federal government, has increased from $725 in 1997 to $805 in 2009. Conditions have vastly improved over the years. Decades ago, there were horrendous accidents at our industries. Today, workplace mishaps are rare. The roots of Labour Day provide pers- pective as well. In Canada, the holiday dates back to 1872, when a printers’ union began demanding a 58-hour work week. In those days, most people worked 12 hours a day. A ma r ch by t he Toron t o Typographical Union to demand a shorter work schedule gained so much momentum that eventually it led to sweeping labour law reforms. While they have their critics, labour unions have been responsible for improvementsthathavebenefitedmembers and non-union members alike. While l’union fait la force , collective bargaining occurs in a minority of workplaces because one in three people in Canada belongs to a union. Should those who are gainfully employed be content simply because they can earn a pay cheque?

Workers, we have come a long way

manufacturing, and transportation and logistics” is a key component of this scheme. Goals include the establishment of Prescott-Russell as a “green” region and centre for research and development of bio- applications in manufacturing, transportation and energy as well as the development of an incubation program focused on activities in the convergence areas between agriculture, manufacturing and transportation. The region needs to retain and attract creative people, notes the report, while it improves public infrastructure so that the area appeals to a wider range of visitors and residents. Some day, many of usmay beworking in the fuel and plastic industries. Biofuels and bioproducts and alterna- tive and “green” energy are packed with potential. Materials such as straw have long been used in composite materials, but the use of bio-based resins and epoxies for the development of biocomposite materials is also increasing. Bio-based resins, such as those produced from corn, soy, or milk proteins, are increasingly being used in the production of plastics. We know about corn and soy being used to produce ethanol and biodiesel. But who knew that stubble had energy-

Considering the convulsions and con- tractions the economy has gone through over the last few years, job security is a rare commodity. The economic levers are far beyond the reach of most of us; decisions that affect our economy are taken in corporate head offi- ces located far away from branch plants. But it was always thus. When it comes to new job prospects, we gain some, we lose some. Our economy never really booms and it never really tanks, either. Variety is the spice of life and the key to long-term prosperity. Since change is constant, many of us can expect to be changing careers often before we qualify for the pension. Individually and collectively, the search for new economic opportunities is cons- tant. Human beings are driven to better themselves, to optimize and test their abilities. Companies seek out new markets and new sources of revenues. Our political leaders look for new chances to stimulate the economy, and at the same time, improve their chances of getting re-elected. One of the goals of a new economic development strategy is to concoct a winning blend of economic ingredients. The “convergence between agriculture,

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