ONTC workers endorse Ring of Fire rail proposal

Posted on October 23, 2012


The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s unionized workers have thrown their support behind a “New Deal” proposal that aims to revitalize the provincially owned agency while providing rail access to Ontario’s rich Ring of Fire mineral deposits.

The proposal would see ownership of ONTC’s rail and other assets transferred to a new ports authority that would be operated under the Canada Marine Act.

In a Monday release, the General Chairperson’s Association, which represents five ONTC unions, said about 530 current employees and a number of retirees endorsed the New Deal proposal at meetings last weekend in North Bay, Timmins, Cochrane and Englehart.

“We are more energized than ever about the New Deal after receiving such enthusiastic support from our members,” said GCA representative Brian Stevens in the release. “Their voices build on strong support from a growing list of key stakeholders, adding to our confidence in the plan’s success.”

The release said ONTC employees were told that the potential severance and benefit costs to the provincial government will be a convincing reason for them to join other stakeholders in advancing the New Deal.

“Our proposal offers clear benefits to the province beyond avoiding costs associated with divesting ONTC,” Stevens said. “This is an exciting opportunity for the government to save transportation services and hundreds of existing jobs in the North while also creating thousands more jobs by providing access to the Ring of Fire.”

The GCA said it has invited Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci and Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli to discuss the New Deal proposal, which was developed in response to the Ontario government’s spring decision to divest itself of the ONTC.

According to the GCA, stakeholders supporting the New Deal include First Nations communities, Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Jay Aspin, Northern Ontario communities, and mining and other business interests.