The head of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) has come out swinging against the provincial government's sudden decision last week to divest itself of the 110-year-old Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC).
In a March 26 statement, Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek and president of FONOM, expressed “shock and disappointment” on the divestiture expected to affect about 900 public sector employees with the railway, rail maintenance, business service and telecommunications.
“It's not just the horrible ramifications this divestiture has for the people of Northern Ontario, it was also the way this decision was arrived at – in Toronto behind closed doors without any input from Northerners who are most impacted.”
Spacek wants a two-year moratorium placed on the decision until public consultation is done, and in the meantime transfer the ONTC from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to the Ministry of Transportation.
FONOM vice-president and Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren said seniors who cannot drive and are in need of medical care will be “left to fend for themselves” without rail or business service.
Mac Bain, a North Bay councillor, said “this short-sighted decision” will impact the city's industry. “We will fight this until the end.”
A special meeting of North Bay city council is scheduled for March 26 at 6 p.m.