Archive | North Bay

ONTC Hiring freeze causing hardship: Union – by PJ Wilson (North Bay Nugget – August 14, 2012)

The provincial government is trying to cause the ONTC to malfunction as it continues with its divestment plan, according to the president of CAW Local 103.
“They are not allowing us to replace people who are leaving,” says Brian Kelly. “There’s a hiring freeze in place, so when someone retires or quits, we can’t replace them.”
The province announced in March its plan to divest the Crown corporation and, since then, Kelly said, has been putting roadblocks in place to its continued viability. The hiring freeze, he said, is causing difficulties in all sectors of the operation. Hiring, he said, is taking place on a case-by-case basis.
“What’s happening is the younger people are quite concerned about their future, the skilled trades people, so they are taking whatever comes their way,” Kelly said.He said particularly hard hit are Ontera and the shop areas. Operations in Cochrane are also feeling the pain, as employees there pull up stakes for jobs at the Detour Lake mining complex. Continue Reading →

Wanted: New deal – by PJ WILSON, QMI AGENCY (Sudbury Star – May 18, 2012)

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

NORTH BAY — Northern Ontarians will be able to let the provincial government know where they stand on the ONTC divestment.

A partnership between the Northern Communities Working Group and the Northern Regional Publishing Group of Sun Media is giving residents of the North their chance to get a new deal for Ontario Northland.

The 11 Sun Media newspapers in Northeastern Ontario — The Nugget, Sudbury Star, Sault Star, Timmins Daily Press, Cochrane Times Post, Elliot Lake Standard, Kapuskasing Northern Times, Espanola Mid-North Monitor and Kirkland Lake Northern News — will run ads and window inserts calling for a New Deal for Ontario Northland.

“We are looking to show the government that there is support for a new deal for Ontario Northland and that Northerners expect the premier … to come to the North and meet with Northern mayors,” said North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

He said mayors across the North have been trying to meet with Premier Dalton McGuinty since the March 23 announcement the province would divest Ontario Northland, but “the premier refuses to meet with the mayors.” Continue Reading →

[Northern Ontario] Getting rail-roaded again – SOAPBOXING – by Dave Dale (North Bay Nugget – May 3, 2012)

Charlie Angus might be a natural front runner for the first premier of Northern Ontario — if the often knee-jerk fascination with separating the province materializes some day.

Comments by the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay in the House of Commons Tuesday demonstrated an impressive grip on history, politics and the potential mishandling of a major economic opportunity.

Angus was speaking during a debate over federal rail safety legislation, which opened a window for him to touch on the ominous threat facing the Ontario Northland Railway.

Some people are already tired of the the topic. They don’t want to hear another word about the Ontario government’s intention of selling off Ontario Northland Transportation Commission assets. Protesting what they consider inevitable is a waste of their time.

Even those who make a living commenting publicly about news events have to fight off the urge to yawn when community leaders huddle over strategic communication campaigns. Continue Reading →

Ontario Northland enough to oppose budget: Critics – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – March 29, 2012)

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

“The proposed sale … of Ontario Northland is a ruthless blow to the North.
I think it’s something that needs far more discussion than has occurred …
It’s flagrant negligence on the part of the government to even talk about
eliminating Ontario Northland.” (David Leadbeater – Laurentian University
economics professor

The government’s decision to sell Ontario Northland is making waves across the province.

“This kind of measure of (selling Ontario Northland) as a short-term austerity event is the most short-sighted, backward and retrograde action I’ve seen about Northern Ontario in a long time,” said David Leadbeater, a Laurentian University economics professor.

“The proposed sale … of Ontario Northland is a ruthless blow to the North. I think it’s something that needs far more discussion than has occurred … It’s flagrant negligence on the part of the government to even talk about eliminating Ontario Northland.”

Last week, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci announced the province is divesting itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, a Crown agency that offers rail and bus service in Northern Ontario. Additionally, the government is looking to privatize Ontera, a telecommunication company that is a subsidiary of the commission. Continue Reading →

[Ontario Northland Railway] ONR paved the way in Northern Ontario – ON THE ROCKS – by John R. Hunt (North Bay Nugget – March 27, 2012)

“This has to be in Toronto tomorrow,” my wife said. “Will you take it to the station for me?”

Only old timers will understand much of this column, but I want some younger folk to understand how much the ONR once meant to folk who lived in Northeastern Ontario.

I am still livid. On Friday when I heard that the ONTC was to be killed, it felt as if I had been kicked in the gut. What made it worse was that The Nugget had just published a short piece recalling how Tembec was built out of ruin.

Tembec became a great Canadian success story because management, the workers and the community joined together for a common purpose. Why not the ONTC or Air Canada and too many others?

I took the letter to Cobalt ONR station, which in its time was the biggest and most handsome of its kind. When the southbound train pulled in, I gave the letter to the man running the mail car. Continue Reading →

ONTC cuts: ‘Like a kick in the gut’ – by Rita Poliakov (Sudbury Star – March 27, 2012)

The provincial government is standing by its decision to sell Ontario Northland. And Northern Ontarians are taking it personally.

“Funny, it’s only when we invest in the North that we’re taking money away from education and health care. When we invest in the south, it’s fine,” Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas said.

Gelinas’s comments come days after Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci announced the province is divesting itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, a Crown agency that offers rail and bus service in Northern Ontario. The government also announced that eight buildings across Ontario, including one in Sudbury, will be sold.

Ontario Northland was at the heart of a question raised by John Vanthof, MPP for Te m i s k a m i n g-Cochrane, in provincial legislature on Monday. “I accused (Bartolucci) of killing the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. (He said) they’re not killing it. They’re divesting themselves of it. Basically, they’re privatizing it,” he said, adding that he was shocked when the decision was made. Continue Reading →

ONTC: Other shoe drops – SOAPBOXING – by Dave Dale (North Bay Nugget- March 24, 2012)

It should be a crime for Premier Dalton McGuinty to open his mouth during election campaigns. The Liberal leader has done more to erode voter trust in politicians than any Canadian before him.

The decision to sell off the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, announced shamefully via media teleconference from Sudbury Friday morning, adds another car to a long train of broken promises.

He even left it to Sudbury MPP Minister of Northern Destruction Rick Bartolucci to break the news. In April 2002, McGuinty stopped in North Bay to bolster the campaign of then Grit candidate George Maroosis during the byelection against Conservative Al McDonald.

The Grit leader loved to sign contracts back then. He signed a contract promising the people of Nipissing he wouldn’t sell the provincial agency. Continue Reading →

ONTC: ‘Darkest day’: Union, leaders react to news – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget- March 24, 2012)

The province has dealt a devastating blow to the entire North with its plan to sell off the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, says a union spokesman.

“It’s unbelievable . . . this is the darkest day at the ONTC,” said Brian Kelly Friday, shortly after plans were announced to divest the Crown corporation. “This is the wrong decision.”

The news was delivered by Northern Development Minister Rick Bartolucci via teleconference from Sudbury.

The Polar Bear Express which travels between Cochrane and Moosonee will continue to operate, while the Northlander train service between Toronto and Cochrane will be cancelled and replaced with bus service. Ferry services between Moosonee and Moose Factory will be consolidated with other provincial ferry services. Continue Reading →

ONTC: Up for sale – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget- March 24, 2012)

The future is unclear for more than 950 employees at Ontario Northland Transportation Commission after the province announced Friday it will sell the Crown corporation.

Most of the ONTC divisions — rail freight, rail refurbishment and Ontera telecommunications — will be sold. The Ontario Northlander train service that runs between Toronto and Cochrane will be cancelled and replaced with bus service.

The Polar Bear Express from Cochrane to Moosonee is one service that will remain operational.

The news was delivered by ONTC chairman Ted Hargreaves and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci Friday morning in Sudbury. “Divestment isn’t foreclosure. It’s business as usual,” said Hargreaves. Continue Reading →

City plots ONTC strategy – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – March 25, 2012)

An uphill battle to save Ontario Northland Transportation Commission jobs gets underway Monday.

Mayor Al McDonald has called a special meeting of council for 6 p.m. in response to Friday’s announcement that the Ontario government plans to sell the Crown agency, which employs more than 950 people across the Northeast.

The meeting is expected to involve presentations from union officials, John Strang, president of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, ONTC chairman Ted Hargreaves and president Paul Goulet.

“I think its important that the community understands where we stand on this issue,” said McDonald, suggesting divestment of the ONTC will be devastating for Northeastern Ontario.

The province has said it can no longer afford to pour money into the operation and is seeking new providers for ONTC services. Continue Reading →

Province cuts ONTC, set to sell MNDM building; Ontario Northland to operate for time being – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – March 24, 2012)

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

The axe has started to fall on Ontario services in advance of Tuesday’s spring budget. The Liberal government announced Friday it is divesting itself of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, a Crown agency offering rail and bus ser vice, and telecommunications in Northern Ontario.

The agency employs almost 1,000 employees, most unionized. The move will save the government $103 million in operating costs annually. Sales of buildings and equipment could net the province “hundreds of millions” more in assets, said Ted Hargreaves, chair of the ONTC board.

The announcement was made Friday in Sudbury by Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci on the seventh floor of his ministry’s building at 159 Cedar St. While reporters were being briefed about Ontario Northland, Infrastructure Ontario issued a news release that the building in which the news conference was being held was going on the auction block. Continue Reading →

Liberals, Bartolucci have betrayed the North – by John R. Hunt (Sudbury Star – March 24, 2012)

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

John R. Hunt is a columnist for the North Bay Nugget whose appears on occasion in The Sudbury Star.

Promises are made to be broken and northeastern Ontario has been betrayed.

Ontario’s debt-ridden and too often incompetent government intends to throw the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission into the political dumpster and sell its assets.

No one knows future of more than 950 jobs. The implications for North Bay and every town and village as far north as Moosonee are serious. But the real meaning may be tragic for all Ontario.

It is a victory for southern suburban thinking. There is no vision, no hope and no ambition to create a truly great Ontario. Continue Reading →

Mapping out a united vision for [Ontario] Northerners – by North Bay Mayor Al McDonald (September 28, 2011)

North Bay Mayor Al McDonald made this speech to Greater Sudbury City Council, Sept. 28, about mapping out a united vision for Northerners:

Bon soir. Good evening.

Your Worship and Members of Council:

On behalf of the citizens of North Bay, it is my pleasure to bring greetings and, in the spirit of friendship, thank you for this opportunity to address you this evening. I would also like to thank you for hosting the Northern Ontario Business Awards last night. Your city was a welcoming host and your community was showcased in a positive light.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of you for your time, energy, and commitment for your dedication to public service. It is never easy and it is always tougher on our families as we have to give up a lot of family time with the demands of the job. So, I would like to thank your family members as well. It is interesting that we as elected officials get more credit than we deserve at times but get much more blame as well. I have the greatest respect for those individuals successful or not, for putting their names on a ballot. Thank you for serving.

Here in Northern Ontario, we enjoy a quality of life unparalleled to other places in the world. We have parks, green spaces, wildlife, colleges and universities, festivals, arts, culture, theatre, safe communities, and focus on families. Continue Reading →

[Northern Ontario history] Building Highway 11 – by Gregory Reynolds (Highgrader Magazine – Late Fall, 2011 issue)

This column was originally published in the Late Summer, 2011 issue of Highgrader Magazine which is committed to serve the interests of northerners by bringing the issues, concerns and culture of the north to the world through the writings and art of award-winning journalists as well as talented freelance artists, writers and photographers.

When northerners are not talking about the weather, they complain about the sorry state of many of the highways in Northern Ontario. They look with envy at the first-class highways and byways in the south and talk bitterly about Highway 17 being a death trap and think Highway 144 between Sudbury and Timmins should have a sign saying: “Drive at your own risk and only in daylight. Large trucks, moose and bears have the right of way.”

Still, the North does have a few highways that are no longer part way between cow paths and obstacle courses and residents do manage to get about.

It was not always so and the story of the Yonge Street extension that became today’s Highway 11 could be the history of any major traffic route in the North. While the money for highways came from the south, northerners built their own roads, prisoners, farmers and bush workers between seasons, the poor and those on the welfare rolls. Continue Reading →

Seize [Ontario] North’s destiny – by Mike Whitehouse (Sudbury Star – September 29, 2011)

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

Canada and Ontario badly need Northern Ontario to succeed, North Bay Mayor Al McDonald says, and the North desperately needs leaders and leadership.

McDonald addressed City of Greater Sudbury council last night with an appeal to strike an accord of northern communities to promote common regional goals and interests.

The North is hampered by two syndromes, he said. First, cities and towns in the North are still dependent on handouts from provincial and federal governments — and, often, industries — for the most basic of needs. In this way, northern destinies are still controlled in Toronto and Ottawa, he said.

Second, Northern Ontario communities and businesses are competing in a global marketplace and not doing so together is disadvantaging all of them, he said. “We need a plan and a vision for Northern Ontario and we need it to be comprehensive and inclusive,” he said. Continue Reading →