Greg Rickford – “Standing up for the People of Northern Ontario”

Minister Greg Rickford air Helliar’s Family Fishing Resort in Nestor Falls Ontario.
Minister Greg Rickford at Helliar’s Family Fishing Resort in Nestor Falls Ontario.

KENORA – Leader’s Ledger From day one of our government’s mandate, we had an ambitious plan to open Ontario for business and create jobs and opportunities for hardworking families across the province, so they can keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.

Your provincial government has been hard at work. But there is one region that continues to be a top priority for our government, that is northern Ontario.

The north is uniquely important to Ontario’s economic health and wellbeing and has a wealth of resources including a hardworking and highly skilled workforce. That’s why we continue to focus on how we can welcome further investments while making it easier for businesses to grow, hire more people, and to compete in a global marketplace.

We’re doing this by eliminating Ontario’s job-killing carbon tax, so that families can save on gas and home heating, and pressure is reduced on the bottom line for businesses. We were also able to get Ontario’s skyrocketing energy rates under control by introducing the Fixing the Hydro Mess Act, and cancelling wasteful green energy projects, which saved another approximately $790 million.

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporationpromotes and stimulates economic development in the region. Through it, we have invested more than $82 million in 539 projects. From $1 million for the City of Kenora’s Downtown Revitalization Project to another $1 million for Science North’s expansion across Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and other northern communities—investments have created or retained more than 1,400 jobs, and indirectly will generate both additional hiring and millions of dollars in associated commercial activity.

When people and goods flow, the economy can grow as well, and we’re getting Northern Ontario moving. Better rail, roadway, and transit networks mean that we will be able to link hardworking northerners to jobs, create better access points to markets, and provide more convenient mobility for goods.

For that reason, our government developed a long-overdue plan to begin the twinning of the Trans Canada Highway between Kenora and Manitoba.  It’s why we funded the $106 million, first in Ontario cable-stayed Nipigon River Bridge, and why we’ve invested millions more in Dryden, Fort Frances, and other communities for infrastructure, winter roads, bridges, and culvert rehabilitation projects.

We’ve expanded natural gas access to thousands of households—investing $27 million in Thunder Bay to convert natural gas to liquid form, and millions in pipeline construction, bringing cheaper energy alternatives to those that need them most.

Our mining industry is number one in Canada, with $9.9 billion worth of minerals produced in 2017 alone. Mining is not only a staple of the north—it’s critical to Ontario’s economy, that’s why we’re supporting Algoma Steel with a $60 million investment, and welcoming Noront Resources’ announcement of their new ferrochrome processing plant in Sault Ste. Marie.

Standing up for northern industry also means fighting back against the federal government’s attack on our livelihoods. We have joined provincial counterparts in fighting the federal carbon tax, and I have been vocal at every opportunity to tell the federal government about the crippling effect Bill C-69 will have on industry.  This legislation includes critical shortcomings that make the industry less effective, more uncertain and more unpredictable. If passed in its current form, it will slow economic growth and competitiveness, kill jobs and rob hardworking northerners of much-needed opportunities.

As part of our commitment to ending hallway healthcare, we’ve been protecting what matters most by investing in the facilities that deliver care for our citizens.  This includes a $1 million capital funding contribution to Nipissing’s Mattawa Hospital, and $1.35 million to help the Riverside Health Network deliver reliable, quality care.

Creating jobs and opportunity for northerners, making life more affordable and easier for hardworking northern families—this is what our government is about.  As a proud northerner, there is no single region more important for the long-term prospects of Ontario than the region we call home.

Greg Rickford
Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
MPP for Kenora-Rainy River