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Taking care of business at the Forum

Volunteers Guylaine Marcil (right) and Richard Grimard (not pictured) were recognized at the Pontiac Forum 2018 on Friday. The event brought together municipal officials and stakeholders from a wide variety of community, social and healthcare organizations from throughout the region to coordinate meaningful action. Yvan Vaillancourt (left) accepted the award on Grimard’s behalf.

CALEB NICKERSON
CAMPBELL’S BAY Nov. 16, 2018
A host of local stakeholders and officials gathered at the R.A. Hall in Campbell’s Bay last week for a day-long forum discussing ways to effectively serve the community.
Titled the Pontiac Forum 2018, the event was spearheaded by the Pontiac Community Development Corporation (CDCP) and the Pontiac Social Development Table (TDSP). More than 125 people attended, each representing a specific public or private entity.
“The idea for today is to bring together elected officials and the community organizations and find a way to make them work together for the benefit of the citizen,” explained Michel Vallières, director general for the CDCP.
Speakers spoke in both official languages and the event even featured live translation services on site, with participants donning headsets while a pair of translators sat in a booth at the back.

The keynote speaker was Denis Marion, mayor of the Municipality of Massueville, president of the Quebec Network of Healthy Cities and Towns, and vice-president of the Quebec National Institute for Public Health. He spoke about the rapidly-evolving role of municipal elected officials and the unique challenges they face.
Vallières explained that by gathering so many stakeholders together in one room, they could lay out their 2018-2023 action plan and delegate concrete objectives by area of interest.
Partner organizations present included the Centre integré de santé et services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO), both school boards, Bouffe Pontiac, Pontiac Community Development Corporation (SADC) and more. Local MP Will Amos, MNA André Fortin and Warden Jane Toller were all in attendance.
“There’s many people, dedicated people in community organizations in the health services, education services that are there,” Vallières said.
The five areas of focus were: healthy lifestyles, education, community life, housing and transportation/economic development.
Some of the objectives included strengthening programs for youth and seniors, while consolidating others due to funding drying up. They seek to mentor young people that show an interest in municipal politics and encourage volunteerism, as well as create a housing board and promote public transportation.
Two heavily-involved community members were recognized by the assembled audience for their contributions over the years: Guylaine Marcil and Richard Grimard. Grimard was absent and Yvon Vaillancourt accepted the honours in his place.
The afternoon closed out with an activity about collaborating with local officials, which laid out some of the expectations for citizens or community groups dealing with municipal government. Participants were asked to reflect on the best ways for their organization to work with local representatives.
Vallières said that the different committees would be meeting individually to accomplish their objectives.
Snacks and lunch were provided by Café 349.
The event had a handout of projections and demographic comparisons of MRC Pontiac, the Municipality of Pontiac and the rest of the Outaouais, compiled from Stats Can, Emploi Quebec and the Quebec Statistical Institute. (All figures from 2016 unless otherwise stated)
By the year 2036, the number of people over the age of 65 in MRC Pontiac will jump to 5,136 from 3,478 in 2016 according to the projections. During that same time period, the 25-64 age bracket will shrink considerably, from 7,966 to 6,318, with the 0-19 group contracting moderately from 2,729 to 2,647.
Looking back, from 2006-2016 MRC Pontiac decreased in population from 14,769 to 14,062. Over the same time period, the Municipality of Pontiac increased in size from 5,238 to 5,850. The Outaouais population as a whole expanded, from 345,027 in 2006 to 389,139 in 2016, with Gatineau seeing the lion’s share of the new arrivals.
In MRC Pontiac, 25.1 per cent of the population had no diploma; another 23.8 per cent had a high school certificate. In the Municipality of Pontiac those same figures were 18 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.
While 33 per cent of the Outaouais had a university degree, that figure was 20 per cent in the Municipality of Pontiac and only 10 per cent in MRC Pontiac.
The unemployment rate in MRC Pontiac was 10.5 per cent, compared to the Quebec average of 7.2 per cent. Men were more likely to be unemployed in the MRC, at 13.7 per cent, compared to women at 6.9 per cent. The Quebec average in that time period was 8 per cent for men and 6.3 per cent for women.
The unemployment figures were much lower in the Municipality of Pontiac: 6.5 per cent for men, 3.4 per cent for women and 5.1 per cent overall.
In 2015, the average salary in MRC Pontiac was $32,556, compared to $44,595 in the Outaouais and $39,332 across the province.