THUNDER BAY – “I’m delighted to have an opportunity to speak about our excitement at being able to release the growth plan”, stated Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, “which is an economic vision for the next 25 years for northern Ontario, the second growth plan released in the province. A real priority of our government, obviously, is northern Ontario, and we are going to be looking at ways that we can guide investment decisions from southern Ontario, based on what northerners have told us”.
Northern Growth Plan
“This has been a three-year consultation period. We’ve talked to thousands of northerners. They’ve given their advice to us. Tomorrow, indeed, in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, we’ll be releasing the details. We’ve got some very specific initiatives that we’re excited about, which again, I believe, will reflect the northerners’ view of how we can develop the north in a very exciting way,” enthused Gravelle.
“We all know about the many opportunities that are developing there, whether it’s through the wood supply competition to our new forest tenure modernization process or, indeed, our commitment to the Ring of Fire development. The long and the short is, this is an exciting day tomorrow in northern Ontario”.
“This plan is built on the input and ideas of northerners themselves, and it will help ensure the development of northern communities as places where people will want to live, work and play for future generations,” added Bill Mauro the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan.
The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) has welcomed the introduction of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario as a significant step forward on the long journey towards a more prosperous and diversified region. The 25-year plan establishes a strategic framework and sets out policies and actions for how the Ontario government will engage, support and work with northern communities, businesses, Aboriginal communities and public sector partners.
“NOMA members have been enthusiastic participants in the development of the Northern Growth Plan through a great number of meetings and discussions over the three and a half year process,” said Ron Nelson, President. “We welcome the release of the Plan and are pleased to see that many of our recommendations have been included in the final document.”
Nelson continued, “NOMA is especially pleased to see the establishment of a Northern Policy Institute. It is vital that public policy for the North is developed in the North. We will continue to work with the Ministry to ensure that the needs of the Northwest are addressed as decisions are made regarding the operating structure and physical location of the Institute.”
The New Democrats are saying instead of a move forward, the announcement of the Growth Plan is merely the first shot in the Liberal arsenal for this October’s election. “When the birds come out and the snow starts to melt, you know its springtime. It’s about as easy to figure out when a provincial election is around the corner. Just wait for McGuinty Liberals to start chirping about the so-called Northern Growth Plan,” state the NDP in a media release issued this morning. “After ignoring job losses in the North for four years, the McGuinty Liberals put out a statement five months before the election, saying “A new growth plan for Northern Ontario will lead to a stronger, more prosperous North.” (Ontario government, May 17, 2007). Today, after four more years of ignoring Northerners’ voices, they’re talking Northern Growth Plan again. Must be election time”.