THUNDER BAY – The OFIA has come out swinging at the Ontario government over the level of support for road building for forestry. Minister of Northern Developement, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle responds, “I understand that it is frustrating to hear about funding decreases, as nobody likes less money, but the OFIA’s tone in their release is not helpful. Our government has shown unprecedented levels of support for the forest industry and Northern Ontario, and it is clear, with an election on the horizon that the OFIA has decided to play politics”.
“In 2005, the Ontario government implemented the roads funding program and committed almost $400 million to forest access roads as harvest levels fell almost 50 per cent,” added Gravelle, continuing to say, “Like most ministries, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry was required to reduce program funding to help address the current fiscal challenges faced by Ontario. The Ministry decreased its funding this year for the construction and maintenance of access roads to $47.8 million, a temporary reduction in line with both lower harvest levels and government constraints”.
Gravelle asserts that “Despite criticism from the Ontario Forest industries Association, the Ministry had indicated to the industry the potential for additional roads funding throughout the year should funds become available”.
“Yes, our government has had to make some tough decisions, but we’ve also invested in several forestry companies throughout Ontario; investments that have put people back to work, and investments that are helping the long term stability of mills,” concludes Gravelle.