OPSEU questions MNR restructuring
Despite planned layoffs and field office closures, MNR says its workforce won't shrink
The union representing Ministry of Natural Resources workers in northeastern Ontario says 30 people will be laid off and three field offices will be closed — but the MNR says it's restructuring and will actually be hiring 68 more people in the next year.
Natural Resources minister and Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti said that's thanks to a $40-million budget boost that came this year.
"It's a much more positive story than would have been the case based on last year's budget," he said.
OPSEU's list of MNR cuts in northeastern Ontario
Chapleau (3), Cochrane (2), Hearst (2), Kirkland Lake (4), North Bay (6), Sault Ste. Marie (2 in Sault Ste. Marie + 1 in Blind River), Sudbury (4 in Sudbury + 1 in Espanola) Timmins (2) and Wawa (3), for a total of 30 lay offs.
Further, a total of 13 field staff in Espanola, Gogama and Manitouwadge area offices are to be relocated.
"It's unfortunate that the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is not completely recognizing that. We've made significant efforts to protect these services."
Dozens of workers received redundancy notices across the province this week, but will be able to apply for the new jobs as they are posted, Orazietti said.
He added that by next spring, the MNR will have more employees than it does now.
But OPSEU member and ministry biologist Dave Fluri, who works from the North Bay office, said there are still a lot of questions about what these changes will mean.
"Generally speaking, people are apprehensive and that's because we have received a lot of detail regarding what the ultimate vision is regarding the way our services will be delivered."
Fluri said he's been through several rounds of cuts at the MNR and believes it's an easy target because it isn't Toronto-based.
"When it comes times to clawback funding for different ministries, the MNR has been a favourite whipping boy of various governments across the years," he said.