McGuinty Government Acts To Promote Northern Prosperity
Measures Protect Ontario Northland Jobs And Services
The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) is an Operational Enterprise Agency of the Ontario government. It plays a vital role in promoting community economic development in Northeastern Ontario by providing and supporting critical communications and transportation services to widely dispersed communities and businesses in the Highway 11 corridor.
The ONTC's commercial operations consist of O.N.Telcom, Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) rail freight services, the Cochrane Station Inn, bus services and rental properties. Its non-commercial operations consist of the Northlander, Polar Bear and Little Bear trains, and the Moosonee barge. O.N.Telcom is a full-service telecommunications carrier providing local and long distance telephone, private line voice and data, advanced network, e-business, Internet and cellular telephone services. Its territory covers a 200,000 square kilometre area in Northeastern Ontario.
The measures announced today are immediate steps necessary to address the ONTC's deteriorating financial condition and uncertain future as a Crown corporation. The voluntary early retirement offer, for all qualifying ONTC employees, allows the organization to begin to chart a viable future and respond to new opportunities. There are approximately 200 eligible employees.
The ONTC has been examining the potential of an alliance arrangement for O.N.Telcom services. They will now conclude an agreement with TELUS Services Partnership to provide enhanced telecommunications management services and expertise to enhance O.N.Telcom's existing local network and services. This five-year alliance is projected to result in a significant improvement in O.N.Telcom's financial position.
The government has also asked the ONTC to develop a long-term strategy so that its services are better positioned to:
- support and promote Northeastern Ontario economic development, job creation and community sustainability;
- support, promote and enhance linkages and clustering between communities within the region and between Northeastern Ontario and other regions;
- deliver price-competitive transportation and telecommunications services that are safe, reliable and responsive to customers, residents and businesses in Northeastern Ontario; and
- deliver services in a financially efficient and effective manner with an objective of self-sustainability.