The Durham College Chronicle
Lorne Coe says he has a busy mandate, but he is relishing his new role as member of provincial parliament for Whitby-Oshawa, especially helping Durham College and UOIT grow and meet the demands of employers.
Coe made his comments after opening the renovated indoor riding arena at WindReach Farm in Ashburn. The stables form part of a working farm which is a centre for supporting individuals of all abilities, but especially those with special needs.
“I am enjoying every moment of it. It is going by very quickly. We have 20 months until the next provincial election, and we look forward to forming a government.”
Coe was elected MPP in February in a byelection called after the resignation of Christine Elliott.
Soon after getting elected, he was named the official opposition critic for advanced education skills and development, and co-chair of the policy advisory committee for education for the Ontario PC party.
Coe spoke of his role as part of a working committee with college and university presidents. He noted the declining enrolment in higher education over the past three to four years, especially in areas such as Windsor and northern Ontario, due to demographics and companies migrating from the province due to high electricity rates.
Coe said he had visited universities and colleges over the last six months, including Durham College and UOIT, to learn their views on academic challenges, the current funding formula and how some skills don’t meet the requirements of the job market, with a view to improving the education system in the future.
“At the moment there is a skills mismatch,” the MPP remarked. “We have situations where 9,000 teachers graduated a year ago, and there were only 5,000 jobs. I get emails from across the province, including Durham Region from employers saying they have jobs, but they can’t find graduates with the requisite skills to take them.”
The MPP added, “there is an obvious disconnect in the development of academic programs.”
Coe said he has been collaborating with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to deal with the skills mismatch and wanted to help Ontario’s colleges and universities have the programs which would meet the job openings available in the province.
“We believe the education system can be strengthened beyond what the current regime has done,” Coe said.
The veteran politician has over 13 years of political experience and served as town and regional councilor in Whitby and Durham Region before he secured the post at Queens Park.
He encouraged anyone to go the Ontario PC website to provide input on a range of topics, such as education, health care, infrastructure and finance.
“I look forward to making a difference that people across the province are telling us they want and deserve,” said Coe.