Angus – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is expressing satisfaction with Natural Resources and Forestry Minister (MNRF) Jeff Yurek’s announcement that he will review the Liberal government’s decision to close the Ontario Tree Seed Plant.
“This is encouraging news for the employees of Local 313, for the town of Angus and for the environment,” said Elaine Bagnall, chair of the committee that represents OPSEU members working at MNRF. “The previous government’s decision to shut down the plant was ill-advised, short-sighted and completely unjustified, to say the least.
“The minister’s announcement to review that unfortunate decision is the right thing to do. The consultation will hammer home the compelling reasons for keeping the plant open and public.”
The Ontario Tree Seed Plant is the only one of its kind in the province. OPSEU-represented workers do the highly specialized work of extracting, storing, cleaning, testing and distributing billions of tree seeds every year, including 50 native species to Ontario. It provides a highly reputable service for nurseries, forestry companies, government tree-planting programs and individual consumers.
“I’ve already written to the minister to commend him for reviewing the Liberals’ decision to shut down the plant,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU. “They made it without any justification that I’m aware of and without consulting either the workers, the community, customers or environmental stakeholders.
“This minister, on the other hand, wants to meet with stakeholders,” Thomas noted. “As the bargaining agent for the technicians and support staff at the plant, OPSEU will be pleased to participate in the consultation. We look forward to sharing our members’ expertise and ideas for continuing to run the plant efficiently within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
“With that said,” he continued, “I would urge the minister to recall the full complement of staff to the plant while the review takes place. That way, we can ensure the plant stays fully operational during this time.
“I hope the minister recognizes, as we do, the vital role the plant plays in promoting the viability, biodiversity and resilience of one of our province’s greatest assets: its magnificent forests. The plant must stay open and continue the excellent work it’s been doing for almost a century.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Elaine Bagnall, 705-760-0759