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Minister responds to NDP criticism

Friday, December 13, 2013   by: SooToday.com Staff

SooToday.com has received the following letter about transforming the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission from the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle.

He is responding to criticism leveled by the NDP yesterday.

To read that release please click here

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The transformation of the ONTC is, expectedly, of considerable interest to northerners.

That is why, as Minister of Northern Development and Mines, I continue to work alongside a dedicated group of Northerners that include members of my ONTC advisory committee, ONTC management, and union representatives to transform the ONTC.

We share a goal of sustainable telecommunication and transportation services and we certainly share the goal of a prosperous North.  

 I would, however, like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points. 
 
Earlier this week, Ontario’s Auditor General published a special report on the ONTC.

The report clearly acknowledged the significant challenges and complexity of transforming the ONTC.

At the same time, she specifically notes that, “There is little doubt that without change, the operation of the ONTC in its current structure will require taxpayers to subsidize its operations on an annual basis”.

This is a subsidy that is only projected to grow into the future.
 
Our discussions with northern leaders show a clear consensus that the current state of the organization is not sustainable and change is needed. 

It is also clear that the services provided by the ONTC are vital to Northern communities.

Transformation of the ONTC is intended to save taxpayers money in the long run while ensuring vital transportation and communications services continue to be provided to northerners.

I must stress that the $820 million in liabilities that the Auditor noted in her report is not an accurate representation of our government’s approach to transformation.

I have stated for quite some time now that I do not believe divestment is the only option before us.

Different lines may require different solutions.

That still remains the case today.

The report makes it clear that no final decisions on the future of the ONTC have yet been made.

We continue to explore transformation options that include public ownership, restructuring, alternative service delivery, new partnerships, and finding new owners.

That is the work underway now, certainly to inform decision making, a full look at all costs and liabilities under each scenario will be included.

Our government is working with communities across the North to develop a multi-modal transportation strategy.

The ONTC motor coach line continues to service its bus routes, we remain fully committed to continuing the Polar Bear Express train service between Cochrane and Moosonee and we will ensure the ONTC continues its current operations until decisions can be made.

At the end of the day this is about finding a sustainable solution.

Our government will take the time to meet the aims of sustainable employment, continued economic growth, and a strong transportation and telecommunications network in Northern Ontario.”
 
Michael Gravelle

Minister of Northern Development and Mines

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Comments
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scottstewy123 12/13/2013 11:52:02 AM Report

I wish our provincial Government would stop the lies.
aurora 12/13/2013 12:26:06 PM Report

"I must stress that the $820 million in liabilities that the Auditor noted in her report is not an accurate representation of our government�s approach to transformation."
Much like, I suppose, the government's approach to cancelling the natural gas generating facilities.
One phrase describes this government: ARROGANTLY INCOMPETENT.
Truck 12/13/2013 12:32:38 PM Report

Yes Scotty....cause our Federal government has been so open, honest, and transparent!! They are all full of it!! Lib, con, right, left...all full of it! Trying to save their own asses...nothing more nothing less! When the PM can get up and openly lie to canadians what do you expect the rest of them are going to do?!
Paddlenut 12/13/2013 12:43:28 PM Report

The government would only spend $820M if it happened. It hasn't happened. That figure represents a maximum liability under a worst case scenario. It would be the cost of divestment no matter which party formed the governmnet. Meantime, we're still pumping $ into the thing. The report states is that the ONTC will continue to require ongoing subsidies to the tune of $100M plus a year. The report also states that in the long term, divestment would reduce the burden to taxpayers. Sadly, political parties only think short-term.
flyhawk25 12/13/2013 1:02:00 PM Report

Response to Minister Gravelle - baloney.
In your government's world Ontario ends north of the GTA.
Subsidizing railways are as old as the last spike.
The difference is you guys pour money into the greater metro transit service which we all pay for but continue to ignore us.
scottstewy123 12/13/2013 1:36:10 PM Report

TRUCK this has nothing to do with the Federal government duh
Truck 12/13/2013 3:07:53 PM Report

thanks tips!
S.M.A.R.T. 12/13/2013 4:54:26 PM Report

Why can't people understand that we are drowning in CEO and other upper and middle level management salaries and the attendant BONUSES paid these people for sub-par performance and plain incompetence? How can bonuses be paid within government agencies that are debt-ridden, year in and year out? And don't forget politicians who do nothing about this out-of-control spending and give themselves unjustifiable annual salary and expense account increases, all the while looking forward to a pension that most people can only dream of. Add the erection of new buildings at a dizzying pace rather than upgrading and renovating existing ones and my friends, you have the reasons for our being unable to afford vital services previously considered commonplace (e.g. railways servicing isolated northern communities, keeping major highways open during the winter). Oh yeah, and now they're telling us that it's only fair that the cost of major enhancements to the Toronto transit system be spread throughout the province of Ontario to the tune of an earmarked 10 cent a litre gas tax. Now don't forget the extra 8% recently added to the price of gas with the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). If you think things aren't going from bad to worse, think again. Your electricity bill will have to go up 33% over the next three years. And don't think electing a new party is going to make things any better. Sorry, but it isn't! And so you rightfully ask: What can we do? Well, short of a revolution the only thing I can think of is a united front in, let's say, refusing to pay our Hydro/Utility bills. Surely there is someone in this province adept at orchestrating social media toward such an end. One thing is for sure, the grossly wasteful public spending and ever increasing fees and taxes in this province and country will soon require drastic measures to remedy.
Lone24 12/13/2013 6:15:27 PM Report

Very well put S.M.A.R.T. that's exactly the same way I see it. GREED is what runs everything now.
S.Claus 12/13/2013 7:09:31 PM Report

If we deducted the $820 Million from the Billion dollars spent on one Liberal riding - we would have a surplus of $180 million. I would like to see the Billion dollars come out of the Liberal party funds. After all it was used to get one Liberal seat (user pay)
I'm In 12/13/2013 11:18:56 PM Report

I know this has nothing to do with the Federal PC's but I want to thank Brian Hayes for the waste of taxpayer money buy sending all the constituent households and apts. in his riding of SSM the Christmas card, if I liked his party I would have kept , as soon as I opened it went in the recycle box.
Comments
11
Please sign in to post a response
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. Keep discussions civil and on topic. Refrain from obscenity and don't post anything that your grandmother would be ashamed to read. Those who do not abide by these guidelines will have their membership revoked without notice. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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