MNR job cuts, office closures coming, province says

Job cuts and office closures are coming to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources as it chops $70 million or 10 per cent of its spending over three years, Minister Michael Gravelle confirmed Thursday.

“These are tough decisions,” he acknowledged at a news conference, overshadowing the release of a plan to protect woodland caribou in a huge chunk of wilderness between Timmins and James Bay.

The deal, reached after negotiations with forestry firms and First Nations that signed the 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, would also allow logging companies to cut down 20 per cent more spruce trees over the next 30 years.

The proposal — which covers an area five times the size of Toronto — would protect 800,000 hectares of caribou habitat while leaving 2.2 million hectares further south open to forestry.

“In the southern zone we haven’t seen caribou for some time,” said Janet Sumner, executive director of the conservation group CPAWS-Wildlands League, which supports the plan.

“It’s going to continue to keep jobs,” added Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren.

Gravelle said the proposal, which still requires government approval, is “balancing what’s best for industry, for northern communities and for the protection of the woodland caribou.”

The caribou is considered a species-at-risk and needs land free of development to roam and breed. Sumner said it’s not known how many caribou are in the area.

Word of the ministry staff cuts leaked out after employees in northern Ontario were warned to brace for changes as part of the minority Liberal government’s effort to slay a $15-billion deficit.

It’s another blow for the north at a time when the minority Liberal government is already under fire from northerners for plans to privatize the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, saying an annual taxpayer subsidy of $103 million for its train and bus services is no longer affordable.

No final decisions have been made on the number of employees to be laid off or offices that could face closure, but Gravelle, who represents the riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North, pledged “there will continue to be a very strong field presence.” The ministry is often a major player in northern cities and towns, providing jobs and wielding influence in a region hard-hit by years of mill and mine closures.

“We’ll be trying to make the most sensitive decision we can in terms of the impacts on everything on staff, let alone the communities,” Gravelle added.

“We are committed to maintaining our commitment to natural resource management conservation and our core priorities — fish and wildlife, Crown land management, forestry, parks public safety … but we also have to manage with a significant internal deficit.”

The Liberal government has been touting its plans to develop the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast swath of chromite and other mineral deposits in northwestern Ontario to help bring more jobs and prosperity to the region.

In Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s March budget, Gravelle’s ministry falls to $687.1 million in funding for the current fiscal year, down from an interim figure of $713.3 million last year.

Ministry of Natural Resources job cuts, office closures coming, province says -
So much for the promises made.

The Ontario MNR was once a model of wildlife management to the world.

It is a mere shadow of its once proud self.

Two Conservation Officers to two WMU's, in Southern Ontario. Northern Ontario may as well be the moon, for the protection it gets from the MNR.

Years ago when I made it a point to meet and great the local CO's, it was uncommon to get their personal contact info. Now they hand it it out like it was the office number. As the people have become the eyes and ears of wildlife protection in this province.

1,076,395 km2 and only 240 CO's to protect the entire land and water mass combined. Actually, that number would be more accurate around 120 to 150, with much generosity, given that many in that number are supervisors that never set foot in the field, and other Officers have to leave the field to attend court for trials.

The last 5 provincial governments should be ashamed.
Free Thinker
And steve has nothing to do with the cuts,right,doesn't it seem just a bit strange,even to you rabid torys that the provinces that are either Liberal or NDP get the deepest cuts.No not likely.
Quote: Originally Posted by relic View Post

And steve has nothing to do with the cuts,right,doesn't it seem just a bit strange,even to you rabid torys that the provinces that are either Liberal or NDP get the deepest cuts.No not likely.

Ya, it's all Harper, lol.

I guess this rabid tory thought the last 5 Ontario provincial gov'ts were all Liberals or NDP.