KENORA – “With MPPs and Ministers locked out there is no excuse for Gravelle not to live up to his government’s promises to consult before cutting,” states Sarah Campbell, the MPP for Kenora Rainy River. With the Fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly cancelled as a result of the government’s decision to prorogue, Sarah Campbell, MPP Kenora-Rainy River and NDP Natural Resources Critic, is calling on Minister Michael Gravelle to enter into province-wide consultations on proposed changes to the MNR.
In a November 1 letter, Campbell says proposed restructuring of the department will have long-term repercussions on communities and businesses across the province and, as a result, will require full and open dialogue before moving forward.
“While parks and field offices may seem unimportant to bureaucrats in Toronto focused on trimming the bottom line, they provide vital supports to our province’s resource-based economy, including Northern Ontario’s tourism and forestry sectors,” states Campbell. “People are worried that pulling the local expertise out of communities may vastly compromise their ability to attract business and skilled employees to their community, in addition to retaining existing talent. As the minister responsible, it is imperative that you act responsibility to ensure these cost-cutting measures do not have long-term consequences that hinders future economic development.”
Campbell says previous cuts, such as those to the province’s Bearwise program and the decision to outsource Ontario jobs to Tennessee show the Ministry is more focused on numbers than results – something that must be avoided if the province’s valuable resource industry is to be protected.
“This is was happens when departments attempt to balance their budget without considering its broader impact,” says Campbell. “Do taxpayers save money if municipal or provincial police forces, rather than the MNR, respond to nuisance Bear Calls? Did the decision to outsource jobs to Tennessee consider just a dollar figure, or did it take in account the fact that these jobs could be filled by the thousands of Ontarians who are looking for work? People deserve answers to these questions.”