Jobs commissioner needed to review Ontario plant closures

Proposal follows news that money-making Smiths Falls Hershey plant will go to Mexico


Smiths Falls (5 March 2007) - The New Democratic Party wants Ontario to create a jobs commissioner's office with powers to force companies to justify plant closures and explore alternatives before jobs are moved out of the province.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton proposed the idea during a visit to Smiths Falls, southwest of Ottawa, where long-suffering residents received yet another devastating blow recently with news that the money-making Hershey chocolate plant, a part of the town for 44 years, is shutting down to take advantage of a cheaper labour location, and to make even bigger profits, in Mexico.

"The government should not stand by and allow a company to shut down 500 jobs in a community, which is very dependent on those jobs, without requiring the company to be very clear about what the issues are," Hampton told the Brockville Recorder and Times after meeting with local municipal and labour leaders.

Idea worked in B.C.

Such review mechanisms have proven successful in averting closures elsewhere, notably in British Columbia during the early 1990s, he noted.

The loss of the plant, scheduled for 2008, will throw 500 people out of work and cause a much wider circle of economic damage, including a serious market loss for local dairy farmers.

Hampton also called on Ontario's Liberal government to reconsider plans to close the Rideau Regional Centre, a previously-announced big blow to the town affecting some 800 jobs.

"I think it would be outrageous for the province to now proceed with a closure of the Rideau Centre, putting another 800 jobs out of commission," said Hampton. "The province should take a step backwards and reconsider its position."

However, a spokesman for the ministry of community and social services has said there are no plans to reconsider the closure, slated for 2009. NUPGE