MNR means more here 0
CUTS TO THE Ministry of Natural Resources is certainly bad news for the province, but it is especially bad for areas like Haliburton.
Last week, the anticipated $7.1 million in cuts (called a “transformation plan”) to the ministry were announced, including layoffs and program changes across Ontario.
In our neck of the woods, the Minden office lost eight seasonal positions and Bancroft was reduced by five.
Concerning the stewardship councils, the MNR will no longer be funding co-ordinators for the councils, instead creating 25 “partnership specialists” at district offices: read Peterborough.
It’s not good news.
And while we all understand that the provincial Liberals must do something to reduce the deficit, job cuts and looming office closures certainly don’t help those communities outside urban Ontario.
In fact, any change to the MNR operations has an amplified impact on rural areas.
It is in areas like Haliburton where the hunting and fishing happens; where species at risk reside; where bears can be a nuisance to cottagers; where natural spaces must be protected from the slowly encroaching sprawl of southern Ontario.
And the jobs are precious.
Jobs at provincial ministries pay well. People in the Highlands need this work and businesses depend on consumers with disposable incomes.
Any loss – even seasonal positions – will make an impact.
The worst part, beyond that of the staff cuts and reduced services is the weakening relationship between the MNR and the community.
It’s unclear whether our stewardship council will be able to continue without robust support from the ministry.
Tree planting workshops, wetland preservation education and kids’ fishing excursions are a few examples of the good work the council does.
It is also a face of the MNR, which is quickly losing many of its connections to the wider public.
Taken together, these small changes send a message that natural resources aren’t a priority.
And there are three more years of “transformation” to go.