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Letter: Task forces are needed for workforce, drug issues

The Buffalo Niagara region must focus on technology and innovation in order for us to successfully compete for a talented workforce, M&T Bank Chairman and CEO René Jones said recently, as quoted in The News. To grow the area’s labor force and to stay relevant in technology, which he says is a growing need, Jones said it will take “a sustained, collaborative effort.”

I suggest a working task force of Mr. Jones, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, presidents of local colleges and key business leaders to create plans to make this region competitive for workers by giving them a reason to stay, attracting a new, talented workforce and providing the disadvantaged members of our community the opportunity to fully participate.

In a letter to Everybody’s Column, Horizon Health Services President and CEO Anne Constantino also addressed our future generation but from a much different angle. She is on the front line of counting the number of deaths by drug overdoses and suicides that regularly obtain front page news coverage.

Her concern, and mine, is what is not covered by the media – “the lives saved every day by the dedicated teams of counselors, medical staff and clinical assistants working in community-based agencies.”

She points out the stories that are not written about the many dedicated and extremely hard-working professionals in our community and across New York State who are preventing suicides, reversing an overdose or assisting a patient or family in crisis.

Such as the working task force I recommended above, a similar one is suggested to be led by Ms. Costantino, Ken Houseknecht, president and CEO of Mental Health Advocates of WNY, and others to address this growing epidemic.

Michael J. Billoni

Grand Island

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