Hunters concerned about the moose tag lottery being affected by the ongoing Ontario Public Service Employees Union strike should wait and see, said the district manager for the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“At the present time, we’re advising people to get their moose licenses and applications at outside issuers,” said Bill Darby.
Darby said hunters can mail the applications, which will be processed by a central receiving office in time for the May 15 deadline. They also can wait until the strike is over and take it into the local MNR office.
So far, Darby said the strike has not affected the annual moose lottery.
“The moose lottery is not considered an essential service, but we’re all hoping and expecting that the strike won’t last that long.”
It has, however, prevented people from applying for—or renewing—their Outdoors Card or getting their hunting licence.
If the OPSEU strike continues, the MNR will announce a contingency plan for moose hunters at the end of the month.
About 45,000 OPSEU workers across the province, including 4,000 in Northwestern Ontario, have been on strike since March 13. Negotiators went back to the bargaining table a week ago Tuesday, but there has been no word yet on a settlement.
As for when the strike will end, Bob Dakin, president of Local #711 here, said no one knows. “Everything is quiet. There has been no news because of the news blackout,” he noted.
But Dakin said the lack of information actually could be interpreted as a good sign. “It means everybody is talking and hopefully they are working towards the end of the strike.”
In the meantime, Dakin said local members are staying upbeat as the strike enters its fifth week.
“Morale is great,” he said. “They are not out there to have fun, but the picketers are finding some enjoyment out of doing their rounds.”