Friday the 13th of December, Gary Horsnell, a former Ontario Ministry of the Environment worker, held a candid interview with the Tow Row Times in his Brantford residence, amid a gathering snow blizzard outside.
Gary recounted his work for an MOE lab tasked with testing Ontario’s drinking water supply. He reminisced about the 1990’s Provincial privatization scheme that went badly wrong, displacing Provincial scientists and engineers with private water testing businesses.
A 2002 report published by the Ontario Government, Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, describes how, in May 2000, E. coli contaminated drinking water led to the deaths of seven citizens, and the illness of “more than 2,300”. ”
After privatization, Gary said he worked for another former MOE water tester, Garry Palmateer, whose lab, G.A.P. EnviroMicrobial Services Inc., apparently carried out routine testing of Walkerton’s drinking water from 1996, until about one month before the Walkerton contamination tragedy.
In 2011, a Provincial Government news release stated that $72 million in compensation payments had been made the Walkerton’s victims of the 2000 E. coli contamination, addressing more than 9 thousand claims.”
Today, Walkerton is home to a Provincial Government agency, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre, established in 2004, whose stated mission includes safeguarding
Ontario’s drinking water through training and research, notably First Nation’s communities.
According to its 2012-2013 annual report, the Centre received $3 million in transfer payments from the Ontario government during 2012 – 2013, and $4 million the previous year.”
The Centre’s 2012-2013 annual report, , showing a $10,215,033 cash loss, also details various expenses, such as $729,895 for “rent”, $2,183,525 for “salaries”, and at March 2012, $279,330 for “website and communications”.
While the Ontario Realty Corporation, now Infrastructure Ontario, apparently holds title to the Centre’s facility property, the Centre states that it expensed $8.3 million payments to the Provincial agency for construction of new facilities. The Centre also apparently holds $7 million in GIC’s at an undisclosed Canadian chartered bank.
Ontario regulations spell out that the Centre is “an agent of Her Majesty within the meaning of the Crown Agency Act” and that the Centre may “temporarily invest any surplus money not immediately required for its objects”.