Taxpayers to pay for Ontera severances: MPP Vic Fedeli

North Bay MPP Vic Fedeli says the sale of Ontera to Bell Aliant will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The telecommunciations arm of Ontario Northland — Ontera — was sold to Bell Aliant for $6 million.

North Bay MPP Vic Fedeli says the sale of Ontera to Bell Aliant will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Ontera is the communications division of Ontario Northland, and its $6 million sale to Bell Aliant became official on Wednesday.

The communications company has told workers at least 40 positions will be eliminated over the next two years.

Some management positions are also being cut.

Fedeli said taxpayers will carry the burden of $50-70 million in severance payments to laid-off employees.

“Sadly, because they didn't do their homework — and that's what the Auditor General said — they did not fully comprehend the cost structure that this will entail,” he said.

“The Liberal government was not aware of the 14-year severance for rail employees and six year severance for telecom employees when they announced their fire sale.”

The Competition Bureau, which announced more details about the sale on Wednesday, ruled the sale will likely lessen or prevent competition in telecommunication services for up to 16 northern Ontario communities, if the sale went through as is.

As a result, Bell has agreed to a long-term lease along a portion of Ontera's network to Eastlink, as a third-party provider.

Fedeli said he's not sure whether the move will create competition and keep costs down.

The lease between Bell and Eastlink is for 20 years.


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