Some Ontario environmental watchdog employees, including Saxe, to be axed, despite Ford’s election promise they would not be

Some provincial employees at Ontario’s environmental watchdog were informed Thursday they will be laid off, despite Premier Doug Ford’s election promise that no workers would lose their jobs in his push to trim the province’s budget.

The Ontario PC government announced in November, as part of its fall economic statement, that it planned to merge the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario into the auditor general’s office in an effort to cut costs.

 Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has seen her department folded into the Office of the Auditor General by the Ford government. Six people, including Saxe, have lost their jobs.Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has seen her department folded into the Office of the Auditor General by the Ford government. Six people, including Saxe, have lost their jobs. (FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 

In an email Thursday, Christine Pedias, a spokesperson for the auditor general, confirmed that five full-time, non-management employees were not offered positions as part of the transition, which is scheduled to take place by May 1. The commissioner’s office has a full-time staff of about 25. “As of today, the Office of the Auditor General has offered positions to most of the technical, specialized staff of the Environmental Commissioner’s Office, including its management team,” Pedias said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to offer positions to the remaining staff because they duplicate our existing in-house resources, or their specific roles are not required under our expanded mandate.” SOURCE

Dianne Saxe calls on Ontario faith leaders to stand up for the climate: ‘What are the Ontario bishops and faith leaders doing?’


Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner in Queen’s Park, Ontario on Dec. 6, 2018. Photo by Cole Burston for National Observer

I’ve got the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dianne Saxe on the phone. It’s late afternoon, in the dead of winter, and she’s on backcountry roads, heading north for a rare weekend off. “I might cut out,” she warns me.

Dianne’s office reports on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights, as well as Ontario’s progress on climate change, energy conservation, and other environmental issues. As a staffer at Faith & the Common Good, a national, interfaith charity with the goal of championing environmental and creation care throughout our network of diverse faith & spiritual communities, I am eager to hear directly from the mouth of the commissioner herself how faith groups measure up on the climate action front. And I’m not talking only about energy efficient light bulbs and recycling — I mean broad, transformative change. Critical action is needed immediately because climate change is happening now and, as Dianne warns in her climate report, much worse is ahead.

So, what, according to Dianne, are religious leaders contributing to the public discourse on climate?

“Not much,” is the disappointing response.

For instance, as part of the ECO’s mandate to support the public use of the Environmental Bill of Rights, Dianne’s office has carefully reviewed the thousands of comments that were submitted on the proposed Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018.

“I had my staff review most of the 11,000 comments and saw no evidence of leadership from the faith communities,” she reports. “What are the Ontario bishops and faith leaders doing?” MORE