'It's pretty sad when a ministry of the Ontario government can't even afford to put gas in its vehicles.' - Dave Fluri, OPSEU
Timmins (17 Dec. 2006) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) held a series of bake sales recently in North Bay, Timmins and Hearst, to help raise money for Ontario's cash-strapped Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
“The purpose of these events is to illustrate, in a humourous way, just how desperate the situation is for the MNR in northern Ontario,” said Dave Fluri of OPSEU.
All money collected at the sales - "20 or 30 bucks for a tank of gas would be nice" - will be presented to Monique Smith, MPP for Nipissing, he said.
OPSEU says morale at the ministry is at an all-time low due to years of cutbacks. Operating funds for the current year are down more than $25 million (5%) from the previous year. The cuts have reduced park staff, curtailed fish and wildlife enforcement and forced many offices to close their doors.
Operating expenses for conservation officers are about 50% what they were the previous year, forcing some offices to ration fuel for their patrol vehicles.
"It's pretty sad when a ministry of the Ontario government can't even afford to put gas in its vehicles," Fluri said. A bottle drive has also been suggested by some union members to help illustrate just how desperate the situation has become.
The bake sales are part of the union's Save the MNR campaign. Members are also wearing black on Thursdays and collecting signatures on petitions.
Meanwhile, legislation jointly supported by the Liberals and Conservatives has been introduced in the Ontario legislature to raise the pay of MPPs by 25%. NUPGE