OETIO responds to comments from Runciman



    OAKVILLE, ON, June 9 /CNW/ - Gerry Hughes, executive director of the
Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO), today responded to
comments by Opposition Leader Bob Runciman that provincial funds for training
centres in Oakville and Morrisburg were approved for political reasons.
    "Mr. Runciman is mistaken to suggest such a thing," said Hughes. "The
OETIO submitted applications for the money under the Skills Training
Infrastructure Program and they were approved after being subject to
considerable scrutiny by public service personnel that administer the funds."
    "These facilities are also under the auspices of a Training Trust Fund
comprised of representatives from both management and labour," said Hughes.
"It is ridiculous then to suggest the reason was political."
    Hughes said the OETIO relies on the provincial funding to purchase
training aids and new equipment.
    "Without these funds, we wouldn't be able to train operators and the
economy would suffer," he said.
    Hughes noted that the provincial funding covers only a small fraction of
the cost of operating the two training institutes. Local 793 of the
International Union of Operating Engineers contributed about $17 million to
build the facilities and another $30 million in operating costs over the past
10 years. Local 793 also puts in approximately $4 million per year through
contributions by its members.
    "This is significant as the funds are contributed at no cost to the
taxpayer," said Hughes. "We must keep in mind that the grants from the
province, while welcomed, are only enough to cover a portion of the costs of
buying new equipment and training aids and keeping these two facilities
going."
    Hughes said various governments have provided funds in the past for the
design and development of programs, as well as simulators, training aids and
equipment.
    "In fact, Mr. Runciman himself presented a cheque for $2.3 million to the
OETIO when he was Minister of Economic Development and Trade in 2001 so I
don't see why he is raising this issue now."
    Rick Delaney, president of Link-Line and an employer representative on
the Training Trust Fund, said the OETIO is important to employers because it
provides skilled and safe operators to the industry.
    "Without the supply of skilled operators from the OETIO training
programs, in my opinion, there would be a shortage of competent operators for
our industry. Safety and productivity would be a major concern for our
company."





For further information:

For further information: OETIO Executive Director Gerry Hughes, (613)
543-2911, ext. 190

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International Union of Operating Engineers - Local 793

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