Cheers & Jeers

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Jeers: and it’s a big one, to Kodiak Group Holdings. The Ontario-based company abruptly announced last week it’s shutting down the Terra Nova Shoes plant in Harbour Grace and moving all production to Cambridge, Ont. More than 80 people will be put out of work, but are free to apply for the mainland jobs.

The company says it has to cut costs, and wants to centralize its operations in Cambridge, which is already home to Kodiak’s headquarters and distribution centre. Kodiak boss Kevin Huckle said Harbour Grace has become too uneconomical, “despite the significant investments KGH has made since it purchased Terra Nova Shoes in 2005.” Well, yes, if you include the $8-million interest-free loan it got from the province in 2008. That’s when it was planning to expand production. Instead, it began laying off staff, eventually cutting the workforce in half. So, how long has Kodiak really been contemplating this move? And why is a local company that’s been operating since 1971 all of a sudden no longer viable? To add insult to injury, the company will continue producing the signature Terra brand. “We care deeply about everyone who has worked hard in Harbour Grace to make Terra a world-class brand,” said Huckle. They have a fine way of showing it.

Cheers: to movement, no matter how small. Last week, Premier Tom Marshall announced more than $17 million in contracts related to the new regional hospital to be built in Corner Brook. The project was announced in 2007 and construction was expected to begin in 2012. While road and sewer work in the area has been done, there has been little progress on the project. The lack of action has been a recurring topic in question period over the past two years. Most of the money announced Thursday will go towards detailed design of all buildings that will make up the health-care campus, including the long-term care facility, acute-care building, administration building, central utilities building and hostel. But the real bricks-and-mortar work won’t start until 2016. At the announcement, Marshall phrased past delays in a curiously passive context. “This got off track a number of years ago. It’s now back on track.” Indeed. We don’t recall that being acknowledged at the time.

Cheers: to the anti-antibacterial lobby. It’s long been known that many so-called antibacterial products do little more than possibly promote the spread of resistant strains of bacteria. Now, it’s been found that two of the chemicals used in these products may disrupt human hormones. A new report from the Canadian Environmental Law Association calls on Canada and the U.S. to prohibit use of the chemicals, which have been found extensively in the Great Lakes waterway. According to The Canadian Press, triclosan and triclocarban are used alone and together in products such as toothpaste, body washes, bar soap and even clothing. About 1,600 products containing triclosan, which the report calls a “chemical of high concern,” are sold in Canada. Another 130 personal-care products containing the chemical are regulated as drug products. U.S. authorities are already reconsidering the safety of antibacterial products. Let’s hope the Canadian government takes concerns more seriously than it did two years ago, when it released preliminary findings that deemed triclosan to be no threat to human health.

Organizations: Terra Nova Shoes, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Cambridge, Corner Brook, Canada U.S. Great Lakes

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