[Ontario Northland] ONTC workers still wondering about their future – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget – July 8, 2014)


While Ontera comes to grips with the news Tuesday that they will lose half of their workforce once the sale is completed with Bell Aliant, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission employees are left wondering about their fate.

Brian Kelly, spokesman for the General Chairperson’s Association, said the government hasn’t been clear about the future of the ONTC.

“Are we going to form a strategic alliance with Metrolinx? Are we going to be part of the Ring of Fire development? There’s just a lot of uncertainty right now,” he said. Kelly said the future of the ONTC remains up in the air.

“The government has given us no indication what the plan is,” he said. “The work in the shops is slowly drying up. The contracts should be completed by the end of the year and then there will be very little work in refurbishment,” he said.

“It’s nice the government is not selling the ONTC, but employees want to know ‘what’s the rest of the story?’” The Liberal government announced in 2012 the divestment of the ONTC, however they have since changed their position and decided to leave the majority of the corporation in public hands.

ONTC’s telecommunications division, Ontera, is scheduled to be sold to Bell Aliant by the end of the summer. The transition will mean the loss of about 66 jobs.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said the Ring of Fire is one of the biggest opportunities for the ONTC and the corporation should be at the table, however they have yet to be invited.

“If the Liberal government wanted to get excited there are 100,000 rail tanker cars that could be required to be double-walled. What a perfect business opportunity,” he said.

“ONTC has the shops, manpower and rail lines. This is a spectacular opportunity, but you don’t hear the government taking advantage of it. We need a government that will put Ontario Northland in business instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle said the government has worked hard to set out a new direction for the ONTC.

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