NDP’s Jamie West denounces Conservative government’s unsafe ferry services due to understaffing

Queen's Park - Ontario Legislature

QUEENS PARK – POLITICS –  NDP Labour Critic Jamie West (Sudbury) has criticized the Conservative government for worsening the staffing crisis among ferry workers in Kingston. West condemned the government’s decision to pay an out-of-province temporary staffing agency two to three times more than unionized MTO ferry workers instead of raising their wages to competitive levels. As a result, passengers have faced cancellations, delays, and health and safety hazards on the Wolfe Island ferry.

Despite the lack of experience and expertise of staffing agency employees, the government continued to use them, leading to a recent incident where a platform fell out from under a man leaving him inches away from being submerged in freezing water. West emphasized that the current state of ferry services in Ontario indicates the Conservatives’ empty rhetoric of prioritizing workers.

West said that the government’s eagerness to pay out-of-province replacement workers more and its failure to increase wages of OPSEU Ferry Workers to competitive levels compromise the safety and well-being of workers and passengers. He added that it is unacceptable that the government continues to pay scab labourers instead of investing in permanent MTO ferry workers with the necessary skills, expertise and experience to maintain safe and efficient ferry services.

West urged the government to stop ongoing service disruptions in Kingston and drop their appeal of the recent court ruling that overturned the Conservatives’ unconstitutional wage-restraint legislation Bill 124. The NDP believes that by investing in well-trained, permanent MTO workers, the government can ensure that the ferries operate smoothly, efficiently, and, most importantly, safely.

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