Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

July 18, 2007 10:55 ET

McGuinty Liberals Continue to Abandon Provincial Parks as W.J.B. Greenwood Privatized

LATCHFORD, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 18, 2007) - The McGuinty Liberals are continuing their policy of provincial park abandonment with the privatization of W.J.B. Greenwood park, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"The transfer of Greenwood Provincial Park to the town of Latchford is merely the latest indication that this government is running away from its responsibility to support our provincial park system," OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. "At a time when environmental issues are top-of-mind for the people of Ontario, this betrayal of our natural heritage is nothing short of outrageous."

The Ontario budget contributes a mere $15.3 million a year to operate and oversee 329 provincial parks, 292 conservation reserves, and 10 wilderness areas, Thomas noted. Ontario raise 78 per cent of park operating budgets from user fees and other charges, the highest rate by far of any province in Canada.

"The Liberal government sees our parks not as a sacred trust, but as a cash cow," said Eric Morin, president of OPSEU Local 635, which covers W.J.B. Greenwood park. "According to reports by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the province gets three dollars in taxes from park-related economic activity for every dollar it puts in.

"The answer to the parks crisis is not to download operating costs to municipalities, but rather to fund them to the level needed," he said. "That's the only way we can patrol wilderness areas, keep campgrounds and day-use areas safe, provide proper maintenance, teach children and adults about our natural heritage, and give park users the most enriching nature experience possible."

The union's web site at www.saveontarioparks.ca has more information about the parks funding crisis.

Contact Information

    Eric Morin
    (416) 528-1453 (Cell)
    Randy Robinson
    (416) 448-7441 or (416) 788-9134 (Cell)