KDLC News, May 23 2023

May 23, 2023

In this newsletter:

  1. May 26-27: Public Referendum on Hospital Privatization
  2. June 3: “Enough is Enough” demonstration
  3. Update on May 5 train derailment and leak
  4. KDLC relaunches education committee
  5. News Briefs
  6. KDLC meeting, dates, contact info

1. May 26-27: Public Referendum on Hospital Privatization

All across Ontario, local health coalitions are preparing a public referendum on the Doug Ford government’s privatization of public hospitals. The Kingston Health Coalition has organized voting stations in Kingston, Napanee, Sydenham and Verona on May 26-27.

The Question:
Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?” 

  • Where do I vote?
    Click here for the updated list of voting locations, May 26-27. There are voting stations in Kingston (16 locations), Napanee (2 locations), Sydenham and Verona. Click here for updated list of voting locations, May 26-27.

2. June 3: “Enough is Enough” demonstration

When: Saturday June 3, noon
Where: Doug Fluhrer Park, Downtown Kingston

The Kingston & District Labour Council is calling all residents of Kingston and region fed up with the Doug Ford government’s cuts and privatization, and the rising cost of living to take action and demand a better, fairer, and more affordable Ontario! The day of action was called by the Ontario Federation of Labour. Actions will be happening across the province.

Click here to learn more about the Kingston action and to download posters.

3. Update on train derailment and leak

On May 5, a 12-car train derailed on the Cataraqui Spur just north of Bath Road over the Little Cataraqui River. No injuries were reported. The derailment was caused by the collapse of a low bridge across the river. Six cars fell into the river. “Five litres or less” of adipic acid leaked into the river, which was contained and not considered dangerous. Other cars carried hexamethylenediamine, a product used in plastics (source).

Clean-up operations have continued since May 5. CN reported 5,000 tons of locally-sourced shot rock has been poured into the wetland to make bridge repairs possible. Another 250 tons of ballast has also been brought in to shore up the damaged rail bed. CN says the shot rock will be removed once the repairs are complete (source).

Transport Canada is conducting an investigation into the derailment. Clean-up operations are monitored by federal agency Environment and Climate Change Canada. The City of Kingston has requested CN share its previous investigation reports. Kingston’s Mayor, Bryan Paterson, has called for a “broad investigation.” The CBC’s request for the report was turned down by CN on grounds of “safety and security reasons” (source).

Of the two reported cargos, adipic acid is a solid, powdered material used in manufacture of nylon at the Invista facility at the southern terminus of the Cataraqui Spur. While adipic acid is not considered dangerous, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) lists hexamethylenediamine as a dangerous and corrosive material. It is poisonous if swallowed, harmful to skin, causes severe skin burns and eye damage, and causes severe damage to the respiratory tract. There was no report of hexamethylenediamine leaking, only adipic acid.

The derailment is not the first on the Cataraqui Spur, which is owned by CN Rail. There have been at least eight recorded derailments on the Cataraqui Spur since 1995 – the same year CN Rail was privatized. The May 5 chemical leak is not the worst train derailment spill into the Little Cataraqui River. A 2007 derailment on the main CN line just north of John Counter Boulevard near the VIA Rail station, spilled 22,000 litres of oil into the river (Kingston Whig-Standard, October 14 1995 and March 13 2007).

Did you know? The 1985 Railways Safety Act and subsequent amendments in 2001 provide rail operators significant powers to establish their own safety rules and conduct their own investigations without traditional direct oversight by Transport Canada. Public policy researcher and author of The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster, Bruce Campbell, refers to this as “regulatory capture” in which industry has “captured” the government regulatory body (ie: Transport Canada) and rendered it ineffective with regards to the public interest.

4. Labour Council relaunches education committee

A motion was passed at KDLC’s general meeting on May 15 to form an education committee with the goal of organizing labour workshops and prepare educational materials for the labour community, both unionized and non-unionized. The chair of the new committee is Canan Sahin (PSAC 901). The committee will work with the KDLC executive in addressing the shared educational needs of the affiliated unions and non-union workers in the district. If you would like to offer any education-related ideas or contribute towards planning workshops, please email Canan at caanan.sahin@gmail.com.

5. News Briefs

  • Wolfe Island Ferry
    Earlier in May, Member of Provincial Parliament Ted Hsu raised the issue of Wolfe Island Ferry staffing shortages and service interruptions at Queen’s Park. Last October, OPSEU Local 428 organized info pickets at the Wolfe Island and Glenora ferry terminals, and called upon Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, to repeal the Bill 124 wage freeze to solve the staffing shortage, and to end the practice of using expensive private hiring agencies for temporary staff.
  • United Way KFL&A announces new CEO
    John DiPaolo will become the new CEO of the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington when current President and CEO Bhavana Varma steps down on September 1 2023. John has worked for the United Way for eleven years and is currently UW-KFLA’s Vice President of Corporate Services. The announcement was made May 9 by the UW-KFLA Board of Directors. The Kingston & District Labour Council’s representative on the Board of Directors is Steve Garrison.
  • City Council directs staff to study housing and homelessness
    On May 16, Kingston City Council was unanimous in passing a motion to direct city staff to produce a report providing “the number of planning applications submitted in the last three years, number of units approved, number of affordable housing units, number of units appealed, as well as development charges and taxes associated with all units.” The report will be submitted by staff in the final quarter (October-December) of 2023.

6. KDLC meetings, dates, contact information

  • Next KDLC General Meeting: June 19, 7pm
  • Next KDLC News: June 5
    To list events and reports in KDLC News, please send to kingstonlabourcouncil@gmail.com before June 3.
  • All official correspondence:
    Please email: kingstonlabourcouncil@gmail.com