It has been a busy week at Queen’s Park and I have had the opportunity to raise some of your concerns in the legislature. Constituents of Algoma-Manitoulin are knowledgeable and active in their communities; when issues arise and you bring them to my attention, it is my responsibility to act on your behalf.
As hunting season approaches we have been receiving numerous complaints about some significant changes within the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the process of obtaining hunting licenses and outdoor cards. For starters, people are having difficulties using the new computer system mandated by MNR to renew their licenses. This proves to be difficult for constituents who are not familiar with modern computer systems not to mention those residing in rural northern Ontario who may not even have access to internet. As we know, many northern remote communities may only have dial-up or satellite internet thus making this new system extremely inaccessible.
It seems as though every aspect of the hunting and outdoors cards have changed. From the physical size of the paper license to the peel off portion which are to be affixed to the animals, it has all because much more difficult to work with.
Perhaps one of the most concerning changes is that the MNR has put the administration of Ontario’s licenses in the hands of a private corporation in a foreign country. This means that personal information, including weapon ownership and credit card information, is in possession of a company that operates outside the laws of our province and country. In addition to this, at this time of rampant job losses, unemployment, and difficult economic realities facing Ontario families, a branch of our own Government is farming our jobs out to the U.S. when we have many citizens in need of employment here in Ontario.
These issues represent a large number of complaints to my office and overwhelming affects many northerners where hunting is more than just a sport. It not only represents a substantial portion of our economic livelihood, it is often an important source of food for families. If hunters are discouraged from participation due to limited or tedious requirements to access proper licensing, it will have a direct impact upon the tourist trade and other businesses that specialize in providing goods and services to sportsmen.
I and my colleagues have raised these issues in the legislature and contacted the Minister of Natural resources regarding these concerns. We demand action on this and want the government to protect our province’s jobs and not ship them out of country.
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