Forster: Wynne government sits on the sidelines as conservation authority layoffs threaten the Niagara watershed

QUEEN’S PARK – Welland NDP MPP Cindy Forster says the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s (NPCA) recent move to cut staff in its watershed department in half is an assault on workers, as well as its own mandate. While this is just the latest decision from the chaotic NPCA board, the Liberal government continues to turn its back, doing nothing to ensure accountability and transparency are restored to the organization.

 

“The NPCA is mandated to protect Niagara and parts of Hamilton’s environment for nearly a million residents,” said Forster. “But instead of doing that, it’s been too busy firing environmental specialists and suing private citizens who dare to speak up for accountability.

On Monday, the NPCA announced it would be firing eight key positions, gutting its Watershed Department by half. The move raised alarm bells from concerned community members, environmental experts, worker representatives and elected officials. They all question how the authority will fulfil its mandate to conserve, restore and manage the Niagara Watershed with these key jobs eliminated.  The move also comes on the heels of a string of allegations against authority board members, including a recent survey confirming that two-thirds of NPCA employees are experiencing workplace bullying and 70 per cent have witnessed “offensive behaviours.”

“This year alone, we’ve seen the NPCA fire many key staff, censure board members with dissenting viewpoints, lobby the government to allow developers to build on significantly protected wetlands, stall the Auditor General’s offer to audit the books, stall freedom of information requests and allow widespread workplace harassment — and the list goes on,” said Forster.

"When will this government step in and hold the NPCA board accountable to ensure public dollars are well spent and that necessary transparency, integrity and accountability are brought back to the NPCA?"

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 Media contact: Eiman Zarrug 416-325-7106