Stunned by the Liberal government’s decision last autumn to abruptly eliminate the 70-year old Ontario Forest Ranger program, former rangers are planning a jamboree in Huntsville on Aug. 24 in a first step to have the popular environmental program restored.
“This is a call-out to 78,000 former junior rangers to join our campaign to have the program restored in the 2014 provincial budget,” said Martin Dubuc, co-founder of the Friends of the Ontario Rangers Program (FORP). “They can demonstrate their support by joining us in Huntsville on Aug. 24 to begin plans to support our campaign to convince the Wynne government to reverse the decision made by her predecessor Dalton McGuinty.
“This government has pledged to improve employment opportunities for young people but 278 summertime ranger jobs for 17-year olds have been cut from last year.”
Without any public consultation, the provincial government eliminated the Ontario Ranger Program – formerly known as the Ontario Junior Forest Ranger Program – in September, 2012. It insisted the program was simply rolled into the Stewardship Youth Program (SYP).
But Dubuc points out there are significant differences between the two. The SYP is a community-based, day-only program that employs four young people per community and a team leader. The forest ranger program, by contrast, was an eight-week program that typically employed more than 20 young people in each of more than a dozen remote locations across Ontario where they frequently worked in provincial parks clearing trails, planting trees, maintaining canoe routes, cleaning latrines and undertaking fish and wildlife projects.
The current day program prohibits applications from youth living in urban centres; the ranger program was open to all young people regardless of the size of their community or where they lived in the province. It was a low-cost program where young people worked for minimum wage and paid for their own room and board.
Notable former rangers include one-time Toronto Mayor David Crombie and federal MP Olivia Chow.
The Aug. 24 jamboree in Huntsville will feature former rangers breaking a two-kilometre trail outside the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment that will feature minimum-edge effects and minimum habitat fragmentation so wildlife can use this area as their home.
To learn more about restoring the Ontario Rangers Program, please visit:
Friends of the Ontario Ranger Program