The NDP's forestry critic, Judith Monteith-Farrell, said Ontario's tree seed plant should be kept open—and kept in public hands—as the future of the plant remains in limbo.
The Ontario Tree Seed Plant, located in the town of Angus, has been preserving biodiversity, as well as supporting forest products and wood manufacturing, since 1923.
The plant is responsible for seeds used to support the growth of trees in Ontario forests, woodlots, parks, schoolyards, and playgrounds.
It has been recognized as a world leader in tree seed collection.
Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals planned to close it so that service could be privatized, which the NDP says is unacceptable.
“Doug Ford needs to keep Ontario's Tree Seed Plant open and he needs to keep it public,” said Monteith-Farrell, the MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
“With a small budget and few staff, the plant is helping the province mitigate the effects of climate change, restoring endangered tree species, and supporting thousands of jobs in the forestry industry,” she noted.
“The previous Liberal government tried to close down the Ontario Tree Seed Plant because they wanted to privatize its critically-important conservation and biodiversity work,” Monteith-Farrell added.
"With Doug Ford's promise of $6 billion in cuts and privatizations, Ontarians have a right to be concerned that Doug Ford will continue where the Wynne Liberals left off.
“Ontario needs this plant, and we shouldn't have to pay the private sector an inflated price for the vital services the tree seed plant provides for Ontario,” she stressed.
The Ontario Tree Seed Plant is run by about six people and costs about $2 million a year to operate.
Monteith-Farrell said Ontario's forests, more than ever, need the management required to deal with the increased challenges they are facing due to climate change, encroachment of agriculture, development, and non-native plants, as well as insects and diseases that challenge native trees from regenerating.
“Ontario's forests need more management capacity, not less," Monteith-Farrell said. ”Forestry delivers jobs, a better environment, and economic growth to Ontario.
“We can't let Ford's cuts impact that," she argued. ”To keep our forestry industry sustainable, we need to be forward-thinking and we need to take action that maintains our sustainability well into the future.
“Doug Ford needs to think ahead for the good of our forests, our environment, and Ontario's forestry jobs that thousands of families and communities depend on,” she concluded.