Call out to stop ONTC sale – by Maria Calabrese (QMI AGENCY/Sudbury Star – June 8, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s plan to not go ahead with priv at i z i n g public services should include scrapping the sale of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, says the organization that represents ONTC unions.

“The McGuinty government is stating that they wish to give public-sector workers some certainty at a difficult time (as) one of the reasons for this shift in policy. Then why would they not give the same consideration to workers at Ontario Northland?” Brian Kelly, a spokesman for the General Chairpersons’ Association, asked in a news release.

Kelly said the association supports the move to stop the privatization of more public services and called for a stop to the ONTC sale. Reports suggest the province is backing off further privatizations as a way to ensure NDP support for its budget.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci confirmed the ONTC selloff is going ahead, said MPP Vic Fedeli (PC — Nipissing). Bartolucci responded to Fedeli’s questions tabled in the legislature two months ago about the future of pension and benefits for ONTC retired workers.

“The divestment of the ONTC is a complex process. However, the pension benefits of ONTC retirees are pro-t ected,” reads Bartolucci’s response.

He said the ONTC pension plan will continue to be administered and funded under the terms of the plan and Ontario’s Pension Benefits Act.

“This gives a little more reassurance, but it has more questions than answers,” Fedeli said in an interview from Queen’s Park.

Fedeli asked how the ministry plans to fund pensioners without any employee contributions or matching government contributions after the ONTC is sold.

He also asked how the government plans to pay into a pension that is in a $100-million deficit.
That figure is based on the last financial statement from January 2011, and the deficit has likely grown to $150 million or more, Fedeli said.

The province said it’s selling off the ONTC to save $250 million over three years toward its goal of eliminating Ontario’s $15-billion deficit.

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