Global Sticks – “We’re optimistic…” Minister Michael Gravelle

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Michael Gravelle
file photo - Michael Gravelle
THUNDER BAY – The ongoing problems at Global Sticks were the focus of questions from Norm Miller in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday. Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle, speaking in Question Period stated, “We are working very closely with Global Sticks and have from the beginning. They came forward to us a couple of years ago with a good business plan for a good product, and they had good markets. We did due diligence, provided them with some significant support, but they continued to have some challenges. They came to us and asked for a wood facility licence—no need for a crown allocation. We helped them with that; we were happy to provide that as well.

“I wish I had a lot of time to discuss this. What I can tell you is that indeed we continue to work closely with them, including, when they identified that they still had some challenges, we identified over 35 different suppliers of wood for the white birch that they needed for the product.

“We are proud of the investment. We understand they’re working their way through a restructuring. We’re optimistic that indeed they will do so. We will continue to work closely with them. This is an example of a company that came forward with a good product and a good market”.

Here is the complete exchange from the Hansard:

Mr. Norm Miller: My question is for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Minister, last week we heard that Global Sticks of Thunder Bay has shut down, and workers are still waiting for their paycheques. As you know, the Ontario government has a big investment in Global Sticks; you gave them $7 million. On May 20 of this year, you put out a press release. It said, “McGuinty Government Creating 130 Jobs for Oliver Paipoonge Township.” My question is: How is it possible that you so recently gave them this money and the jobs have disappeared?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: Listen, Speaker: We’re very, very proud of the northern Ontario heritage fund and the incredible opportunity it brings to northern Ontario, whether it be northeastern Ontario or northwestern Ontario. It brings real jobs and real opportunities.

The fact of the matter is that since 2003, when we re-profiled the northern Ontario heritage fund away from what it used to be before, under the previous Tory government, one that used to fund golf tournaments, we turned it into a job creator. In fact, statistics would indicate that 17,918 jobs have been created because of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., and we’re very proud of that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Norm Miller: Again, to the minister: I don’t know where he gets these numbers from; he just picks them out of the air. These are real jobs I’m talking about.

Minister, reports say that it’s the Ontario government that is creating the problems for Global Sticks. It has been death by 1,000 cuts. The plant first broke ground in 2009. It took 1,137 days from the start of this project before they were operating. It took two years to get the C of A for the boiler from the Ministry of the Environment. They had no wood supply and they had to get wood from Minnesota.

My question is: After investing over $7 million of taxpayer funds, what exactly is the minister doing to help get Global Sticks back on track and open its doors?

Hon. Rick Bartolucci: To the Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon. Michael Gravelle: Mr. Speaker, we are working very closely with Global Sticks and have from the beginning. They came forward to us a couple of years ago with a good business plan for a good product, and they had good markets. We did due diligence, provided them with some significant support, but they continued to have some challenges. They came to us and asked for a wood facility licence—no need for a crown allocation. We helped them with that; we were happy to provide that as well.

I wish I had a lot of time to discuss this. What I can tell you is that indeed we continue to work closely with them, including, when they identified that they still had some challenges, we identified over 35 different suppliers of wood for the white birch that they needed for the product.

We are proud of the investment. We understand they’re working their way through a restructuring. We’re optimistic that indeed they will do so. We will continue to work closely with them. This is an example of a company that came forward with a good product and a good market. We—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.

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