Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Sandra Pupatello unveiled her vision to tap the North’s tremendous potential in Thunder Bay prior to the second leadership debate.
Pupatello has already gained the support of three Northern caucus members, Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources and MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, Bill Mauro MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan, and David Orazetti, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie.
“We’re charting a new course for Northern Ontario in three crucial areas,” she said. “As leader, I will build on the strong foundation the Liberal government established over the past nine years. We’re offering Northern-specific policies for the economy, health care, and issues concerning youth, education and Aboriginal communities.”
The plan states, “With the structural changes to the world economy, Northern Ontario’s economic strength has never been more important to all Ontarians. We will develop a strong plan to harness the region’s immense potential and create long-term prosperity.
- Continued support for the NOHFC to encourage local decision-making and help communities grow their economies.
- Making the Northern Industrial Energy Rate Program (NIERP) permanent to support Northern industries in the global marketplace and help them plan for future growth.
- A long term plan for the Trans-Canada Highway that will call on the Federal Government to restore their share of funding to 50%, along with infrastructure improvements to support increased economic activity along the Trans-Canada.
- Promoting opportunities for Value-Added Jobs in natural resource extraction and processing to maximize benefits to Northern Ontario with a focus on growing trade opportunities around the world.
- Maximizing opportunities in the Ring of Fire region, with a renewed emphasis on infrastructure development and collaboration with the mining sector.
- Working with the forestry sector by helping mills modernize and supporting new bio-product market opportunities”.
The former Economic Development Minister noted that structural changes to the global economy underline the importance of Northern Ontario’s economic vitality.
“More than ever, all Ontarians rely on a strong Northern economy,” she said. “We will develop a program to harness the region’s immense potential and create long-term prosperity. It will include steps such as strengthening the NOHFC to encourage local decision-making, making the Northern Industrial Energy Rate Program permanent, and developing a long-term plan for the Trans-Canada Highway.”
Health care policies designed to meet the specific needs of Northerners are high on Pupatello’s agenda.
“We must ensure that Northerners have greater local access to specialized health care services,” she said. “We will make greater investments in community-based care, with more out-of-hospital health care options tailored to the North’s needs. We’ll also streamline the Northern Health Travel Grant program.”
Pupatello’s plan also addresses the unique needs of youth and Aboriginal communities in the North.
We must work with Aboriginal communities, as partners, to achieve greater engagement and continue to help create economic opportunities:
- Building strong, respectful relationships by working with Aboriginal community partners to develop sustainable, long-term economic opportunities.
- Working with Aboriginal leadership to hold the Federal Government accountable for their responsibilities towards First Nation communities.
“Along with enhanced local education and training programs, we need to create more employment opportunities that encourage people to settle in Northern Ontario once they complete their studies,” she said. “We also must partner with industry to match skills with the demand for workers in advancing sectors such as technology, mining and energy.”
For a detailed look at Sandra Pupatello’s vision for Northern Ontario, visit: http://signup4sandra.ca/category/the-plan-forward/northern-ontario/