President Thomas to Minister: Save the Ontario Tree Seed Plant!
Publication DateFriday, July 6, 2018 - 11:00am
In Angus, Ontario, there is a facility run by the Ontario Public Service called the Ontario Tree Seed Plant. This plant is a gem within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that many Ontarians may not know about - but we all benefit from it every day.
Click here to learn more about the highly-specialized and important work OPSEU members do to promote the viability, biodiversity and resilience of Ontario's forests.
Letter from OPSEU President to Minister
The President of OPSEU is speaking out in support of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, and calling for an immediate halt to closing procedures so that the plant can continue to be run efficiently by the Ontario Public Service. On July 4, Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent the following letter to the new Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Hon. Jeff Yurek:
July 4, 2018
Hon. Jeff Yurek
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Room 445, Main Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A8
I am contacting you as the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) about an issue of vital importance to not only members of OPSEU who work for the Ministery, but to everyone in Ontario who cares about our forests, the forestry industry, and the environment.
In August 2017, the Ministry announced it would be closing the Ontario Tree Seed Plant in Angus, Ontario as of this September. Our members who work at this publicly-run plant extract, test and store billions of tree seeds every year. They also make these seeds commercially available to nurseries, forestry companies, ForestOntario's tree planting programs, and individuals. Our members have highly-specialized knowledge and skills to do this work.
Local MPP Jim Wilson has recognized the work our members do and supports keeping this plant open, and Premier Doug Ford has committed to review the planned closure.
It isn't too late to change course. While some preparation has taken place to wind down the operation, my understanding is that the plant is still fully equipped, and it can easily be kept open.
Closing the plant will affect businesses who rely on the plant to provide them with the seeds they need to keep the forestry industry running well. And it will also put tree planting, biodiversity and environmental stewardship in serious jeopardy in our province.
Everyone from environmental groups to nurseries to forestry companies to concerned Ontarians made this clear to the outgoing government. This is one of those times when the private sector and environmental groups agree: closing the Ontario Tree Seed Plant and privatizing the commercial services it provides is inefficient, bad for the environment, and bad for business.
I urge you to stop this closure immediately and let our members continue to do the superb work that they do every day.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
cc: Hon. Jim Wilson, Simcoe-Grey MPP
OPSEU Executive Board
Elaine Bagnall, OPSEU Ministry Employee Relations Committee Co-Chair for MNRF
Jennifer Higgins, Assistant to the President, OPSEU