Windsor

Deep job cuts come to Point Pelee

Ten employees at Point Pelee National Park are being laid off. Five more could see their hours cut back to part-time or seasonal status.
Ten employees at Point Pelee National Park are being laid off. Five more could see their hours cut back to part-time or seasonal status.

Point Pelee National Park is being hit hard by the latest round of federal cost-cutting.

Ten employees at the park are being laid off. Five more could see their hours cut back to part-time or seasonal status. That's nearly half the park's workforce.

Those affected by layoffs include everyone from tour guides and visitor centre staff to scientists.

The superintendent of the park said there will be no changes until the fall. Marian Stranak said it's too early to tell what impact the cuts will have.

"The principal moving forward will be to re-align our operations in all of our functions, to reflect periods where we need to focus our investments, whether they'd be on times of greatest visitation or time to best manage our resources going forward," Stranak said.

Stranak said seven of the 10 employees whose jobs were declared surplus took voluntary layoffs.

Matt Gagnier is the local president of the union representing employees there. 

"I definitely think the public will notice, and I think the local community will notice," Gagnier said. "When you reduce the staff by that amount, it can't help but impact the quality of the service that the park provides, whether that's tours or people that maintain the park or do research there.

"Local businesses, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, they're all going to see an impact when you have less people that may come to the park."

Michael Malone owns a nature store near the park.  

"It just gets more difficult to make a go of it," Malone said. "You know, we are coming out of a recession. We've had terrible weather last year and now we're looking at reduced hours and reduced investment into our national park," Malone said. "This does not bode well for us tourism and eco-tourism service providers who are dependent on our national park."

Gagnier fears the opening hours or season at Point Pelee may be cut back.

Meantime, Gagnier said there are no layoffs at Fort Malden National Historic Site in Amherstburg.

"They're going to be quite busy with the re-enactments and the memorial of the War of 1812," Gagnier said. "There's a lot of funding for that right now, from the government, so they want to ensure that everything looks good. 

"It's Point Pelee that is really hit hard."

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