Communities Will Be Devastated by Provincial Government's Decision to Close Slots at Racetracks

Hasty decision by Liberals was made without proper economic impact analysis, says SEIU

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 14, 2012) - Thousands of Ontario workers are stunned and left wondering what their future holds after the provincial government announced this morning that they would close the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. slots at racetracks in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia.

The Service Employees International Union Local 2 does not agree with the government's rushed decision and says it was made without a proper economic impact analysis. "We are very concerned about the impact this decision will have on these communities and believe workers who are being laid off should be able to follow the work wherever it goes," Ted Mansell, Local 2's Executive Vice-President.

In Fort Erie, Mayor Doug Martin told a local newspaper "taking 400 slot machines away from Fort Erie Race Track would mean the death of his town's largest employer."

In Windsor, a community hit hard over the years with layoffs, the track is an important employer. Danielle Couvillon, a 15-year employee at Choice Nutritional in the Windsor Racetrack says she'll have to move in with her grandmother at the end of the month. "I don't know what else to do," she said. According to Couvillon, there are numerous couples working at the track - "they'll be economically devastated," she said. "Families will be scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet - pay rent and mortgages."

"An economic impact study and extensive consultation with industry stakeholders should have taken place to implement any changes in a thoughtful, careful, and analytical approach," said Mansell. "We needed to prioritize the preservation of jobs, or at the very least minimize job losses."

"Given this consultation has not occurred," said Mansell, "we are calling for a 'Just Transition' policy by Ontario Government to ensure laid-off racetrack workers follow the work as the slots are relocated in these three affected communities.

The Service Employees International Union is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and over two million workers across Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico.

Contact Information:

SEIU Local 2
Ted Mansell
Executive Vice-President
(905) 941-1229