ONTC sale could cost $500M, MPP says – by Maria Calabrese (North Bay Nugget – April 27, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

NORTH BAY – Severance, pensions and other liabilities could cost the province more than $500 million if the Liberal government goes ahead with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission sale, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“I think they have provided a false scenario to Northern Ontario, a false scenario in their budget, and I intend to prove it,” Fedeli said during an announcement Friday to introduce the PC party’s Northern plan ahead of the provincial budget May 2.

Fedeli repeated calls to stop ONTC divestment, review the Crown corporation’s assets and guarantee rail freight will not be privatized.

He has brought in Ontario’s auditor general to review ONTC financial statements and believes pensions, benefits and workers’ compensation would wipe out the $265 million the province estimates it will save in the sale, and doubles that cost when it comes to offering severances to the hundreds of workers who could lose their jobs.

Boosting economic development was the underlying message in the Conservative Northern plan, released simultaneously by leader Tim Hudak in Thunder Bay and by Fedeli in North Bay.

Fedeli said the Conservatives would boost the economy by lowering corporate taxes and energy costs for industry.

He suggested one of the reasons Sandvik left North Bay, at a cost of 70 jobs, and relocated to New Brunswick was due to energy costs.

Sandvik, which manufactures mining equipment, had planned to reduce staffing at various sites in other countries and said it relocated to the East Coast as part of its restructuring plan.

Fedeli made his announcement at J&J Machine Works on Commerce Crescent, a fabrication and custom machining business that manufactures long toms used for tunnelling and mining narrow veins of gold.

Energy costs are skyrocketing, and that’s having an impact on how many workers can be hired, said Brian Heltcher, secretary treasurer at J&J Machine Works.

“Energy costs are a tremendous factor that we have to keep a close eye on,” Heltcher said.

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