Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli again today asked the Wynne government to get actively involved in resolving the current lockout of Unifor workers at the ONTC during a Members’ Statement in the Ontario Legislature.
"The lockout of Unifor workers at Ontario Northland is now into its fourth week, with no end in sight. A community rally is being organized this weekend, with the national heads of both Unifor and the Canadian Labour Congress planning to attend, which is an indication of the severity of this impasse.
"I wrote the Premier last month asking her to personally intervene to help move the parties closer to a resolution. Not only is there no evidence she’s done this, she has not responded to my letter, which quite frankly, is unacceptable.
"We’d hoped after the Auditor General exposed the government’s faulty math on the ONTC fire sale that they would provide some certainty in Northeastern Ontario surrounding the future. But this lockout has provided only more uncertainty.
"The union has asked for mediation or arbitration three times – but the government has refused. The Premier doesn’t need to pass legislation, she just needs to agree to send all the unresolved items to binding arbitration under Section 79 of the Canada Labour Code.
"So as the holidays approach, I ask in good faith, that the Premier, Ministers of Labour and Northern Development and Mines step in personally and move this dispute closer to resolution for the sake of our communities in Northeastern Ontario."
Meanwhile, John Vanthof, NDP MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane, today demanded the Liberal government stop cuts to the ONTC and northern public services.
“On Saturday, thousands of people will be rallying in North Bay to bring attention to your government’s cuts across the North: cuts to health care, cuts to bus service and basic mismanagement of labour relations throughout the North,” Vanthof said.
“A particular example is the lockout at ONTC. We have got 200 workers who want to work. There’s lots of work out there, yet they’re prevented from working by this government.
“Will this government end the lockout and enter into meaningful negotiations?”
Vanthof challenged the Liberal government’s claims of commitment to Northern Ontario.
“We have seen bus stations closed. We have seen cuts to bus services, and people who aren’t permitted or aren’t offered the opportunity to move where they used to move. We have people in North Bay who want to work. There’s work out there, and the government has decided to close the doors,” Vanthof said. “People in Northern Ontario want to get back to work.”