The Chronicle Journal - Budget has Little for North

Published on March 30th, 2011 in the Chronicle Journal

Depending on who you ask — the provincial budget either forgot Northwestern Ontario or it has some strong

Depending on who you ask — the provincial budget either forgot Northwestern Ontario or it has some strong commitments to help the region for years to come.


One thing is clear: The only new item that could have direct benefits for Northwestern Ontario is an additional $10 million in the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, bringing it to a yearly investment of $100 million.

Liberal MPPs from Thunder Bay were boasting about the NOHFC increase after Tuesday’s budget announcement. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve maintained our commitment to increase the NOHFC,” Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said.

“When we came in it was $60 million and we’ve increased it by $10 million per year.”

The Global Sticks company in Oliver Paipoonge received funding from the NOHFC, Mauro added.

Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, called the $10-million increase “encouraging.”

Gravelle said the NOHFC has retained more than 15,000 jobs in the last seven years.

He was also pleased to see the province is still committed to four-laning the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

Gravelle said he was satisfied with continued commitments to mining, forestry and improving the power lines in Northwestern Ontario.

And, Gravelle said he was happy that the province is still committed to the Northern Ontario Growth Plan, which will provide a map for the next 25 years.
But, the Progressive Conservative critic for Northern Development, Mines, Forestry and Labour said he was surprised there was nothing in the budget to make Northern Ontario’s power rates competitive.

“We know we need the resource sectors to be competing and energy rates need to be competitive,” Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, said.
The budget is “a difficult subject to talk about (because there isn’t much in it for the North). I’ve gone through the 300-page document and Northern Ontario is an after thought.

“It’s as if they forgot they should have a page for the North,” he said.

Hillier said there’s nothing new for mining or forestry, two key sectors in the growth of Northern Ontario.
Howard Hampton agreed, adding that Premier Dalton McGuinty is “out of touch with the difficult

The Global Sticks company in Oliver Paipoonge received funding from the NOHFC, Mauro added.

Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, called the $10-million increase “encouraging.”

Gravelle said the NOHFC has retained more than 15,000 jobs in the last seven years.

He was also pleased to see the province is still committed to four-laning the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

Gravelle said he was satisfied with continued commitments to mining, forestry and improving the power lines in Northwestern Ontario.

And, Gravelle said he was happy that the province is still committed to the Northern Ontario Growth Plan, which will provide a map for the next 25 years.
But, the Progressive Conservative critic for Northern Development, Mines, Forestry and Labour said he was surprised there was nothing in the budget to make Northern Ontario’s power rates competitive.

“We know we need the resource sectors to be competing and energy rates need to be competitive,” Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, said.
The budget is “a difficult subject to talk about (because there isn’t much in it for the North). I’ve gone through the 300-page document and Northern Ontario is an after thought.

“It’s as if they forgot they should have a page for the North,” he said.

Hillier said there’s nothing new for mining or forestry, two key sectors in the growth of Northern Ontario.
Howard Hampton agreed, adding that Premier Dalton McGuinty is “out of touch with the difficult challenges facing Northern Ontario.”

The NPD MPP for Kenora-Rainy River said there’s nothing in the province’s budget that will make a huge difference for the North.

“There’s not much in it for Northern Ontario at a time when the economy across most of the North is suffering.
“With tens of thousands of people out of work, there’s nothing here that will make a huge difference.”

Hampton said he too was disappointed that there were no plans to make electricity rates competitive. And, he’s frustrated with the province’s plans for forestry.
“The government is deciding they will force ahead with tenure reform and that will create more uncertainty for companies that are already struggling,” Hampton said.
“The government admits there will be 60,000 fewer jobs over the next few years. I don’t see anything exciting, interesting, novel or new in the budget to make positive changes in the North,” he said.

Gravelle and Mauro say they are confident that plans to increase spots in colleges and universities, and an increase to $93 million per year spent on mental health and addictions will benefit Northwestern Ontario, but it’s unclear what impact those increases will have in this area.

Hillier said he is happy there are no proposed tax increases, but he takes that with a grain of salt.
“I’ve known Dalton to break his promises before — especially when it comes to taxes,” he said.

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