Friends of the Ontario Ranger Program (FORP) are looking for alumnae Rangers to attend a Jamboree, Aug. 24, in Huntsville, Ontario. Were you or someone you know involved in the Ranger Program? If so, the group needs your help and support.
In September 2012 the Liberal government suddenly, and without public consultations, cancelled the 70-year old Ontario Ranger Program, formerly known as the Ontario Junior Ranger Program.
The program provided 17-year old students across Ontario with the opportunity to work in remote areas of the province through an intense eight-week program. Students were paid the minimum wage and were required to cover their own room and board.
The Ontario Junior Ranger program provided the kinds of work experience that gave ordinary kids – many from larger urban centres – opportunities to do extraordinary things in remote and wilderness locations. Those sorts of quality jobs helped build quality citizens.
The low-cost Ranger program was as valuable to the young workers as it was to the province. The duties the Rangers performed, frequently in provincial parks, included trail clearing, building fish spawning beds and constructing and maintaining public latrines on hiking trails, among other duties.
When the government cancelled the Ontario Ranger Program it claimed the Stewardship Youth Program (SYP), an existing day program, would deliver the same experience and would offer more jobs. That hasn’t been the case.
The only feature of the Ontario Ranger Program that was salvaged was the name ‘Ranger’ and it was added to the existing SYP title.
The current day program does not offer the same quality of experience that Rangers gained from first-hand knowledge of resource management and removed from the distractions of daily life. Now, local youth work in teams of four with one team leader. This program is limited to 30 smaller communities in various locations across the province.
Since 2012, 278 Ranger jobs have completely disappeared.
The FORP are optimistic that the ORP can be restored. Now, the new, Premier Kathleen Wynne government has committed $295 million dollars in the 2013 provincial budget for youth employment.
By resolution at Convention 2013, OPSEU is now a major supporter of Friends of the Ontario Ranger Program. The union is urging its members and staff to provide us with contact information of friends, family and colleagues who may have at one time participated in the junior ranger program. We’re building up our data base of contacts so that we can increase pressure on the provincial government to restore this low-cost but invaluable program that served 78,000 young people so well for seven decades.
If you know of a former ranger who may be interested in learning more about the jamboree or how they can become involved in advocating for the restoration of the program, please contact the OPSEU Resource Centre at 1-800-268-7376.
At the jamboree this August in Huntsville the former rangers will be reconnecting with old friends and sharing their experiences. No ranger event is complete without a work project. The rangers have volunteered to build an education trail in Huntsville. Please come out and join the fun.
OPSEU Campaigns Officer