Ontario must take over Niagara Parks Commission

'The only way to fix the problems is to put it under strict government control.' - Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (17 Nov. 2010) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is calling on the McGuinty government to move the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) under control of the ministry of tourism in the wake of more spending scandals.

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says that while progress is being made by the new board chair to clean up spending and procurement practices at the commission, too many of the previous board members remain in place.

“Past and present board members lived like emperors at the commission, spending whatever they liked and handing out untendered contracts to favoured friends,” Thomas argues.

"While we applaud newly-appointed board chair Fay Booker for trying to turn the tide, the only way to fix the problems at Niagara Parks is to put it under strict government control.”

An investigation by the Toronto Globe and Mail revealed that former NPC executive Joel Noden spent nearly $400,000 on flights, high-priced hotels and expensive restaurants between 2006 and 2009. It still is not clear who approved the expenses. Noden’s former boss and the agency’s corporate services director each say the other was responsible.

“For years we have been calling on the provincial government to reign in the board at the Niagara Parks Commission,” adds Bill Rudd, president of OPSEU Local 217 at the NPC. “Some progress is being made but it will take years to undo the old practices here - especially while many members of the old regime are still in a position of power.”

Instead of the McGuinty government trying to force wage and benefit constraints on public sector workers, argues Thomas, the premier should tackle wasteful spending s happening right under his nose.

“The Niagara Parks Commission can easily be a revenue generator for Ontario if it is managed properly,” Thomas adds. “The time to take control of this provincial asset is now.”

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE