National park cuts may impact tourism

Northern Ontario's only national park will do its best to operate with fewer staff while maintaining as much service as possible for visitors.

Parks Canada reworks hours to make do with few fewer park staff members

Parks Canada says it will do its best to operate northern Ontario's only national park with fewer staff while maintaining as much service as possible for visitors.

That's the message from Parks Canada in the wake of job cuts to Pukaskwa Park near Marathon. Up to eight positions at Pukaskwa Park will be eliminated. Two of the approximately 25 jobs at the park are to be cut immediately.

Mike Walton, the superintendent for northern Ontario, said the park will dedicate most of its staff hours to the peak period between the May long weekend and Labour Day.

"We may not be able to be open as long ... at the Visitors Centre as we have been in the past," Walton said. "So we're trying to really minimize the kinds of changes — but there are going to be some of those."

Marathon mayor Rick Dumas said the changes at Pukaskwa are a hot topic in the community.

"You see people in the grocery stores, near the post office, the coffee shops, you know, uptown," Dumas said. "Wherever, people are talking about the impact [the job cuts will] have in the community."

Walton said he delivered the bad news to Pukaskwa staff in person.

"It was very hard on everyone."

Up to eight people will be let go from the 25 who work at Pukaskwa Park in northwestern Ontario. (

Walton said even those who aren’t losing their jobs feel the impact.

"These are people who have such passion about what they do and where they're working," he said. "It does feel in many ways like a ... large extended family."

Dumas said he hopes the cuts don't affect tourism. But Gary Larouche, who speaks for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the cuts will affect service to the public.

"Surely we're concerned as to how we're going to keep the upkeep of those parks viable for our tourists and for Canadians, for their enjoyment," he said.

Walton told CBC News the job cuts do not affect the nearby Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.