TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - The gutting of the Ministry of Natural
Resources has accelerated and the real victims will be future
generations of Ontarians who, thanks to the latest round of budget cuts
courtesy of the McGuinty government, will scarcely recognize the
province's once rugged charm and beauty.
"Dalton McGuinty has tossed his so-called 'green agenda' into the trash
can," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public
Service Employees Union. "And with it, the preservation of Ontario's
natural geographic wilderness can now be found in a category titled
"This should be of grave concern to all Ontarians and to the millions of
out-of-province tourists who visit us precisely because of our
wilderness spaces and the amenities they provide to nature lovers."
Thomas was responding to this week's announcement by Finance Minister
Dwight Duncan's to dramatically reduce the number of provincial parks
available for overnight camping, a move that includes elimination of
the widely-admired Ontario Ranger Program and all visitor services in
the affected parks.
In all, this latest attack by Duncan on provincial public services will
mean 124 positions, including 102 seasonal employees, will be axed.
Thomas said the loss of the Ontario Ranger Program was especially
disturbing. The 68-year summer work experience program (formerly called
Junior Rangers) introduced thousands of teens to Ontario's wilderness,
thereby building respect for the outdoors and fostering stewardship of
the province's natural resources.
Duncan's actions demonstrate his profound indifference to the findings
contained in last year's report by Ontario's Environment Commissioner.
In it, Commissioner Gord Miller harshly criticized the Liberal
government for slashing funding to the Ministry of Natural Resources to
levels not seen since 1992. The report said that MNR operational
funding is 22 per cent less today than it was 20 years ago.
The ongoing devastation of the MNR operating budget comes at a time when
the province is aggressively promoting mineral exploitation in the Far
North, like the ambitious Ring of Fire.
"More than ever we need the MNR to serve as a watchdog and a custodian
of our natural resources in the face of the mining industry," said
Thomas. "Instead of gutting the Ministry's budget, we should be putting
more resources into protection of our natural habitats that could be
permanently scarred by mining interests.
"The finance minister had the audacity to say these cutbacks at MNR will
be achieved in the name of preserving our public services," he added..
"This would be comical if it weren't so sad. It's double-speak of the
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Warren (Smokey) Thomas