OTTAWA – Thunder Bay – Rainy River Member of Parliament John Rafferty rose in Question Period to press the Harper Conservatives for answers about the elimination of FedNor’s Local Initiative Grants which assist local businesses and municipalities with event hosting and development projects.
In his first question in parliament since the installation of New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, Rafferty rose to press the government on the issue of economic development in Northern Ontario. Rafferty asked the following question to the Minister of Industry, which oversees FedNor:
“Service Groups, not-for-profits, and small businesses in Northern Ontario are taking stock as the Local Initiatives Program has pulled out from under them. This program was about putting small communities on the map and spurring economic development. Cuts to Atikokan tourism and The Heart of the Continent Partnership are two examples of where these cuts will be felt in my riding. Why is the government cutting back on local economic development initiatives at a time they are needed the most?”
Rafferty said the news of the dissolution of the Local Initiative Grant program under FedNor is a big loss for many small and medium sized communities. “These grants were often small, $5000 or less, but had a big impact in communities like Atikokan where the money was used to host events and draw in visitors. It was a program that got some very positive economic results for very little cost.”