Mining Question Raised in Ontario Legislature
QUEEN’S PARK – Bill Mauro and Minister Michael Gravelle engaged in Question Period in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday.
The question came after the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats pounded the Premier and Minister of Natural Resources on Tuesday over a lack of progress on the Ring of Fire.
Mr. Bill Mauro: I’ve got a question today for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Minister, our government’s economic plan to drive jobs and growth has three pillars: We’re investing in people, we’re investing in infrastructure and we’re supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate in Ontario.
Now, I know in my riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan, I’ve got great examples of what we’ve done on the infrastructure front, bringing forward projects that have been sought after for decades actually that we are now delivering on, that have created tremendous infrastructure improvements and are also creating a lot of work, and so that’s a wonderful piece. On the business climate piece, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and through a long list of significant tax reforms, we’ve gone a long way to support businesses in Ontario as well.
As the minister has reminded us many times in this House, Ontario is the leading jurisdiction for exploration and production of minerals in Canada and remains to this day a major player across the world. There is no question that the mining and exploration industry is an important contributor to our provincial economy. Will the minister please inform the Legislature how our government’s economic plan to drive jobs and growth is working hand in hand to grow Ontario’s mining industry?
Hon. Michael Gravelle: Thank you to the member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan; he put it so well.
Yesterday was a great example of that. I had the great pleasure of being at the Lac des Iles mine site north of Thunder Bay at the commissioning of a new mine shaft, our great platinum and palladium mine. It’s a very impressive project, a $400-million investment by North American Palladium, sustaining 500 jobs. It’s just a great example of how our mineral exploration strategy is working.
Our government has invested over $140 million in Ontario’s mineral sector activity to date, and the success is there to be seen. The real good example is that over the last 10 years that we’ve been in government, 23 new mines have opened in the province of Ontario, more than anywhere else in Canada.
We are confident that by providing the right climate to attract investment in mining, we’re going to continue to support job creation and economic activity that will help to continue to grow Ontario’s economy.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Bill Mauro: Minister, obviously 23 new mines opening over the course of 10 years speaks very clearly to the support and the climate that we’ve helped to create here in Ontario.
One of the projects that’s on the minds of many Ontarians, especially those in northern Ontario, is the Ring of Fire. I must say I’m always amazed, and find it remarkable, the criticism that comes forward—that we expect as a government, but the incredible simplicity of the criticism. Many of the members who will criticize us on this project will not speak about the First Nations involvement. They won’t talk about the federal government’s role. They will criticize us as the provincial government. They don’t talk about the individual municipalities or the federations of municipalities that have their own perspectives on these issues. They don’t talk about infrastructure, and, of course, they don’t talk about the multiple mining companies that all have a role in this.
Minister, please share with the members of the Legislature how our government is working hard to ensure the development of this project, including considerations such as investments in communities and infrastructure.
Hon. Michael Gravelle: It really is a great question. Thanks so very much to the member from Thunder Bay–Atikokan. The truth is he has given a great example of just how complex it is to realize the economic potential of this extraordinary opportunity.
We know a number of things. We know that in order for a community to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, they need to be ready, and that’s the kind of work that’s under way in our ministry. I’ll mention the work we did with the Matawa First Nations on a historic framework agreement, and community readiness strategies for communities such as Thunder Bay and Greenstone, which will ultimately be the transportation hub for the Ring of Fire.
I want to encourage all members to speak to us about the work that we’re doing, because indeed that’s going forward in a positive way. We’re having discussions with all interested companies. Those discussions obviously will include important infrastructure links. We recognize how important infrastructure is. You’ve got to be able to have, obviously, access to the—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Answer.
Hon. Michael Gravelle: —and you’ve got to have access out. It’s key.