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Monday, March 23, 2015

Three years on, the ONTC isn’t safe yet


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Three years on, the ONTC isn’t safe yet

March 22, 2015

Three years ago this week, the Ontario government announced its plan to begin the divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. Although the government had since changed its mind and has pledged its support for the publicly owned crown agency, the future of the Commission its employees is far from secure.

Thomas Blampied, author of Call of the Northland, a book about the failed divestment plan, remains concerned about the future of northern Ontario’s transportation system.

“I am heartened that the government backed down from the divestment of the ONTC, but I am increasingly worried about the shape that the ‘transformation’ process is taking,” the author, who continues to follow the ONTC issue, explained.

Citing the recent announcement that the Matheson and Englehart bus stations will close in May, Blampied worries that transportation links in the north are far from secure.

“It’s one thing to cancel the Northlander and leave a bus service to pick up the slack. But it’s a totally different story to begin shutting down bus stations along that route. What’s next?”

Although Premier Kathleen Wynne has been more supportive of the ONTC, the government remains slow to provide real support for the North Bay-based crown agency.

“The government says it is committed to a publicly owned ONTC, but the Commission is shedding jobs in the refurbishment division due to the lack of work – work that the provincial government could be providing.”

Commenting on the announcement of a new board at the ONTC, which is to be chaired by former Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, the author was cautiously optimistic.

“I’m glad that a new board will be in place at the ONTC soon and, while I know that ‘transformation’ means job losses and restructuring, it’s important that the ONTC isn’t cut back to the point that it can’t deliver the services people in the north rely on.”

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