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Cuts to Bilingual office administration services at the MNR

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has expressed grave concerns that the elimination of MNR jobs in the north will result in Franco-Ontarians not receiving provincial services in French as is their legal right.

December 10, 2013

The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur
Office of Francophone Affairs
700 Bay Street, 2nd Floor
Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M7A 0A2

Dear Minister Meilleur:

RE: Cuts to Bilingual Office Administration Services at the Ministry of Natural Resources

I am writing to express my grave concerns with the elimination of French Language Services at the Chapleau, Ignace and Wawa offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Four bilingual Office Administration positions were cut in Chapleau and Wawa.
These job cuts accounted for 50 per cent of the total positions eliminated in the two offices. The bilingual Office Administration position in Ignace was moved to Dryden.

As you know, these three communities are designated areas under the French Language Services Act. Citizens living in designated areas are entitled to receive all provincial government services in French. As a result of these cuts, Franco-Ontarians seeking services in French at the Chapleau, Ignace and Wawa offices of MNR will not receive them.

You are responsible for administering this important piece of legislation.

Cuts to French language services in these communities will seriously impact those who rely on these services on a daily basis. Members of the francophone community, regardless of which region in the province they are from, should be able to exercise their right to access services in the language of their choice. Moreover, the elimination of these jobs is representative of a barrier in the ongoing struggle of equal rights for all.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is committed to maintaining decent jobs in the public service. We also recognize the importance and benefits of providing public services in both English and French. The elimination of bilingual jobs indicates a need for examination of this province’s principles and practices in a larger way.

In conjunction with the work of the union’s Provincial Francophone Committee, OPSEU continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing equitable access to English and French language services to communities throughout the province. As the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, I ask you to ensure that the Province of Ontario follow suit in demonstrating this commitment.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President


copy: David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources
France Gélinas, MPP, Nickel Belt