KENORA – Politics – Last week I wrote about the frustration many had expressed as a result of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs’ decision to bypass Northwestern Ontario with its pre-budget consultations.
As I stated in last week’s column, my party’s Finance Critic, Michael Prue, had pushed for consultations in the Northwest, but that plea had fallen on the deaf ears of Liberal and Conservative members of the committee who decided where to hold hearings.
During the past week, Mr. Prue and I continued to raise the issue and I am happy to report that our efforts, as well as the efforts of members of the public who phoned and contacted committee members, have resulted in a reversal of that decision. Northwestern Ontario will be heard after all!
As a result of this reversal, pre-budget consultations will be held in Thunder Bay on April 3. While I would like to see consultations take the extra step and enter the Kenora-Rainy River riding, the end result is significantly better than the original plan that bypassed the Northwest altogether.
With the committee now visiting the region, I want to encourage local groups and organizations to get involved in the process and make submissions to the committee.
These hearings are a very important opportunity for you to have your voice heard by committee members who will play an important part of not only informing their caucus colleagues about what they have heard and should be included in this year’s budget, but of drafting and writing their own party’s policies down the line.
As of writing, the time and deadlines for submissions has not been set but I would strongly encourage any individual, group or organization who has a concern to share to contact Committee Clerk Katch Koch immediately to learn when and how submissions can be made.
This can be done by contacting Koch by phone at 416-325-3526, fax at 416-325-3505 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While all submitters may not be able to make a verbal presentation to the committee, anyone- whether you can attend in person or not- can make a written submission and these submissions will be reviewed by all committee members. If you do make a submission, it would be beneficial if you could copy my office so that I can also raise your concerns.
This is your opportunity to be heard and I strongly encourage you to get involved.
I would like to thank everyone who spoke out on the issue. Your phone calls, emails and letters helped tip the scales and force the committee to act.
I also want to thank my colleague Michael Prue, who stood on our side since day one and fought to have the Northwest included in the tour. Mr. Prue has visited the region a number of times, both for business and to enjoy the outstanding fishing our region offers, and, as a result, has a firsthand knowledge and understanding of the unique challenges we face.
Our pleas to be included have been heard. Let’s not miss this opportunity to emphasize our needs to the committee!
Sarah Campbell MPP
Kenora Rainy River