Ontario Power Generation to cut 1,000 jobs by 2014

Ontario Power Generation's ongoing efforts to reduce costs will include shaving at least a thousand jobs from the company payroll by 2014.

Ontario Power Generation's ongoing efforts to reduce costs will include shaving at least a thousand jobs from the company payroll by 2014.

The province's leading electricity generator said the plan to phase out redundant roles is part of a strategy to tighten its budget by at least $200 million over the next two and a half years.

The bulk of the job cuts will come in the company's corporate and administrative divisions, which spokesman Ted Gruetzner said have been recently streamlined into one centralized unit.

OPG has no plans to hand out layoff notices or push people into early retirement, Gruetzner said, adding that the jobs will be eliminated gradually through natural attrition.

"We recognize that people want us to be efficient, we recognize that the landscape is changing," Gruetzner said in a telephone interview. "This is a way for us to be more efficient and be ready to meet the future."

The cost-cutting strategy has prompted other changes at OPG, which is owned by the Ontario government and generates about 70 per cent of the province's electricity.

Apart from the streamlining of corporate functions, Gruetzner said the company's thermal and hydro businesses have recently been merged into one division. Its nuclear arm still functions as a standalone unit.

The staff reductions are the latest phase of a strategy that's been unfolding since late last year.

In a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade last November, chief executive Tom Mitchell said the cost-cutting initiatives were designed to help the company respond to trying economic times.

"It's going to help make us more cost-efficient, nimble and responsive to the economic and market realities. And it's going to show the people of Ontario — our shareholders — that we understand the pressures they are under in today's economy and are doing our part to make Ontario better and stronger," he said.

Belt-tightening is nothing new for OPG.

About 500 staff from the nuclear division lost their jobs between 2010 and 2011, while the company committed to slashing $90 million from its information technology budget over the next five years.

More cuts may also be coming, as Ontario's minority Liberal government announced in its spring budget that it would undertake a cost-savings review of the province's energy sector.

Still more upheaval could result when the province follows through on its commitment to shut down coal-fired energy plants by 2014. 

Gruetzner said staff affected by those closures will have the option of taking early retirement if they're eligible, accepting a severance package or finding work elsewhere in the organization.

Coal plant jobs are not included in the 1,000 positions currently being phased out, he said.