Day of Action protests cuts to "Ministry of No Resources"
November 16, 2006
TORONTO - Union members working at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are taking part in activities across the province today to protest the ongoing demolition of key programs of the ministry.
"In the last two budget years, the McGuinty government has swung the axe at MNR programs with a zeal we haven't seen since the Mike Harris days," said Leah Casselman, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "The Ministry of Natural Resources has become the Ministry of No Resources. It can no longer effectively manage and protect the natural resources that belong to all Ontarians."
Among the cuts being protested, Casselman pointed to:
· the slashing of operating budgets for Conservation Officers, resulting in a 19 per cent reduction in the number of convictions for fish and wildlife offenses from 2004-05 to 2005-06 (an even larger drop is expected for 2006-07);
· the elimination of 226 full-time summer jobs for regular students and seasonal employees in the province's provincial parks, including park wardens, natural heritage educators, and maintenance staff;
· the closure of MNR offices to the public; and
· a reduction in compliance inspections of commercial resource users.
"The aesthetic, cultural, economic, educational, environmental, recreational, and social value of our natural resources far exceeds the cost of protecting and managing them," said Casselman. "We intend to continue this campaign over the winter in the run-up to the provincial budget."
Campaign activities for this first Day of Action will see employees wear black to work, fasten orange flag tape to car and truck aerials, and sign petitions for presentation in the Legislature. Rallies and barbecues are also planned, and the union has launched an educational web site, featuring an online petition, at http://www.savethemnr.ca.'
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