MTO should hire permanent ferry staff, not expensive temp agencies

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is paying temporary staffing agencies two to three times more than it would cost to hire permanent ferry workers to staff the Wolfe Island Ferry in Kingston.

This was recently confirmed by their local MPP, Ted Hsu, who received disclosure from the Ministry on the exact figures, and released them this week.

OPSEU/SEFPO Local 428 ferry workers and their passengers have experienced ferry cancellations and delays on both the Wolfe Island ferry and the Glenora ferry due to drastic understaffing.

“Instead of raising ferry workers’ wages to competitive levels in order to attract full-time permanent staff, the Ministry decided to pay an out-of-province temporary staffing agency two to three times more than unionized MTO ferry workers earn,” said Jody Pringle, Local 428 President “The Ministry needs to work with the union to reclassify our positions and compensate them appropriately.”

The understaffing situation is also a health and safety issue, as a recent dangerous incident on the Wolfe Island ferry illustrated.

“The Ford government has created a staffing crisis on the ferries by paying our members far less than the industry standard,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “The situation at MTO is just one more example of how forcing Bill 124 pay cuts on public sector workers for three years during massive inflation has harmed the public services we rely on every day. Enough is enough! It’s time to pay fair wages, invest in hiring permanent MTO ferry workers and improve ferry services and safety.”

MPP Hsu summed up the issue in his statement this week:

“Regular Wolfe Island ferry workers are covered by Bill 124, which has suppressed wages and kept them far below wages in the private sector. Premier Ford has mismanaged the labour shortage and contributed to disruptions and delays in ferry service by allowing ferry workers to be scooped up by the private sector. In the end, just like for nurses, his government has had to hire back temporary agency workers at a far higher cost in money and worker morale.”