THUNDER BAY – “The Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty today issued the first layoff notices in what will become the biggest wave of job losses in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) since the Mike Harris era,” charges OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The lesson of the Mike Harris era is that cuts to public services hurt us all,” contends Thomas. “In 2003, Dalton McGuinty was elected to turn the page on eight years of destructive cuts that lead to the systemic collapse of many public services and contributed directly to the death of seven people in the Walkerton water tragedy”.
Sources tell NetNewsledger.com that there will be five layoffs in the region. Three of those will be in Thunder Bay. All of the layoff notices will be to people working at Community and Social Service ODSP program (Ontario Disability Support Program) on James Street in Thunder Bay, and the other two are in the region.
The layoffs are program review officers who supervise the Social Assistance programs in the municipalities and on reserves. The 274 layoff notices issued today provincially are the start of a process that will cut 1,900 jobs between now and next March.
“Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it,” Thomas warns. “These layoffs and the ones to come will hurt Ontario. The 274 layoff notices issued today are the start of a process that will cut 1,900 jobs between now and next March”.
OPSEU says among the program cuts are several that will jeopardize public finances and public safety, including:
- the province will stop verifying that local governments delivering millions of dollars in social assistance are doing so in accordance with legislation;
- the province will cut staffing that monitors collection agencies by 20 per cent;
- there will be 57 layoffs in the Ministry of Environment which will cut technical expertise in water safety and air quality
Programs helping businesses, protecting consumers, and supporting adults with developmental disabilities will be hit hardest in this first wave of cuts.
“Today is the first of many dark days ahead for the dedicated employees of Ontario’s public service,” Thomas said. “We will use all resources at our disposal to fight back. We will make these cuts an election issue.”