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Closing the Ontario Tree Seed Plant eliminates important environmental work

Logo of tree: ontario tree seed plant
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OPSEU leaders and concerned members across the province are disappointed by the Ford government’s decision to carry out the Liberal government’s plan to close the Ontario Tree Seed Plant. The final decision to close the plant was made by the new PC government in September 2018. Work has started on dismantling and selling off equipment and assets.

The one-of-a-kind plant was operated by a handful of highly-trained technicians and support staff – OPSEU members – who extracted, stored, cleaned, tested and distributed billions of tree seeds every year, including 50 native species to our province. The plant played a vital role in promoting the viability, biodiversity and resilience of Ontario’s forests.

OPSEU spoke out strongly against the elimination of this important environmental work in Ontario, including OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Regional Vice President Sara Labelle, OPSEU Chair of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Employee Relations Committee, Elaine Bagnall, OPSEU’s Northeast Area Council, and many OPSEU members who wrote to the government and held a community rally at the plant this summer.

Local community and environmental activists and industry leaders also lobbied the ministry, their local MPP, and held numerous rallies and meetings opposing the closure since it was first announced by the Wynne government in 2017.

The Conservatives agreed to review the decision after Thomas reached out to members of the Ford government about the importance of keeping the plant open.

“I think everything humanly possible was done to keep the plant open.  The fact that all of our members were reassigned to other duties and nobody lost their job is the one silver lining,” Thomas said. 

“What really is surprising is that there was a strong business case for keeping the plant open and the private sector was pushing almost as strongly as we were.   How is this being ‘open for business?” Thomas asked.

OPSEU is particularly unhappy with the flip-flop by MPP Jim Wilson and his former PC Party. While he was a PC member of the opposition, Wilson strongly criticized the Liberal decision to close the Ontario Tree Seed Plant many times in the media and in the Legislature with the full support of his party for almost a year.

This environmentally destructive decision by Doug Ford’s government comes on the heels of its cancellation of carbon pricing and all environmental programs funded by those revenues, the elimination of the office of the Environmental Commissioner, and a climate change plan that most environmental and clean technology experts agree is wholly inadequate.

The closure of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant is one more example of the Ford government’s lack of concern for the people, and the environment.