Loss of OLGC would be devastating to the Sault: Amaroso to McGuintyThursday, February 16, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
SooToday.com received the following letter today, addressed to Premier Dalton McGuinty from Mayor Debbie Amaroso, in response to recommendations outlined in yesterday's Drummond Report regarding the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation head office located in Sault Ste. Marie.
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier McGuinty,
We have just completed our preliminary review of the Drummond Report and recommendations.
We acknowledge that it is imperative that our Provincial Government review and consider these recommendations as it puts into place a fiscally sustainable plan for Ontario.
We can only urge you and your government, Mr. Premier, to move forward and to balance the need to effectively deal with Ontario’s current deficit with the absolute need to ensure that communities who are already struggling are not further significantly disadvantaged.
We accept that everyone and every institution in the province needs to fairly and proportionately share in the burden that may need to come with changes.
We accept that all levels of government need to do whatever is necessary to achieve better value for taxpayers with improvements in services and/or controlled costs.
We accept that duplication in service delivery needs to be reduced wherever possible.
This brings me to the point of my letter to you today.
Mr. Dummond in his report (Recommendation 17-3) suggests the improvement of “the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s efficiency though at a minimum, the following measure:
- Close one of the two head offices …”
Up until that point in time, Sault Ste. Marie was the only corporate head office and the CEO resided in Sault Ste. Marie and worked at the head office.
Over the years, City Council has had many discussions about jobs being transferred from Sault Ste. Marie to the Toronto area.
Resolutions expressing our concern about these job transfers and resolutions inviting newly appointed CEOs to take up residence in Sault Ste. Marie “at OLGC’s head office” were passed and sent along to appropriate corporate and government officials over the years.
It should be remembered why the head office was established in Sault Ste. Marie in the early 90’s by the then Peterson government in the first place.
It was part of a package for Northern Ontario to assist with a most difficult economy, brought on by downturns in the forestry, mining and steel sectors.
While most other northern cities received significant new Provincial Government jobs and offices as part of a decentralization initiative (Northern Relocation Program), Sault Ste. Marie was announced to be the home and head office for what was then OLC.
Quite frankly, we knew very little about the work of this Crown Corporation but were encouraged by the assurances from the premier that Sault Ste. Marie would significantly benefit by head office presence and its potential growth into other endeavours.
Indeed, the establishment of the head office in Sault Ste. Marie provided exactly the “shot in the arm” that our struggling community needed.
A beautiful provincial office complex was built on our waterfront and good jobs followed.
New hope for a stable future spawned in our community and young people started to think about returning home because of these new opportunities.
OLGC has “anchored” our community for the last 20 years in many ways.
This corporation has been an excellent corporate citizen, very much involved in every way in community events.
It provides many excellent job opportunities for our young (and even not so young) people.
It also provides a great sense of prestige to our community’s profile by its presence and its involvement.
It is now difficult to imagine Sault Ste. Marie without the OLGC head office.
Suffice to say at this point, the loss of the OLGC head office in Sault Ste. Marie would be devastating to Sault Ste. Marie and to Northern Ontario.
While the closure of the Toronto area office would no doubt have some impact on that community, it would be nowhere near the devastation that would come to Sault Ste. Marie and its economy and future.
We would expect that your government would do an impact study/analysis before this recommendation would even be considered.
As the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, I am asking you early in the process to dismiss any suggestion that the OLGC head office in Sault Ste. Marie would close.
All of the reasons that existed at the time of Premier Peterson’s announcement of the establishment of the head office in our community need to be revisited.
The loss of the OLGC head office would devastate Sault Ste. Marie and wipe out all of the wonderful gains that the City and Province have made here over the last two decades.
It would indeed be a huge backward step for all of us.
While there are other parts of the Drummond Commission report and recommendations that we will make comment on in the future, given the significance of the potential impact on Sault Ste. Marie and its future, we felt the need to immediately react to recommendation 17-3 and the reference to the OLGC head office.
cc: David Orazietti, MPP
Joe Fratesi, CAO