Northern Ontario Priorities must top agenda

Northern Power Port of Thunder Bay
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Ontario Politics Northern OntarioTHUNDER BAY – Northern Ontario priorities must top the agenda. Queen’s Park gets back to work today. Starting with the Throne Speech, the Wynne Government will outline their plans for the new legislative session. Premier Wynne faces several challenges. Under the minority Liberal government, her first goal is keeping the Liberals in power. That will mean offering something for both the Progressive Conservatives and for the New Democrats.

Northern Ontario Priorities 

Premier Wynne has promised to make rural issues a priority in her government. She has stated her government will focus on the North.

A focus on Northern Ontario priorities has the potential to become an economic driver for all of Ontario.

The Progressive Conservatives see the solutions for the North in having jobs for everyone. The New Democrats are looking for a staged effort, providing jobs for youth, and for a means to help people earn their way off of social assistance.

Priorities must include education, mining, Aboriginal issues, and shifting Ontario’s focus on energy. Moving Northern Ontario forward means what is really needed include a balance to ensure that education and jobs are a focus. 

It also means a focus on how people can transition into jobs in the North. That means a long-term plan. On the area of education the Ontario Government should take a bigger role over the federal government. The education of Ontario students should be equal across the province. It will be equal for graduates in seeking their futures.

Moving Ontario forward means expanding our view of how the economy works. Northern Ontario has in many ways, in the past, focused on primary resources. Now is the time to move things forward past that traditional base.

Knowledge is a primary resource

Digital ProductsIn the future, knowledge, and digital products are going to be one of the focuses for many companies.

Think of it, companies like Google and Facebook produce digital products. Those are only two of thousands of companies making digital products.

Those digital products are every bit as real a commodity as a roll of paper, a piece of lumber, or a ton or mined ore.

Moving our region to a more solid economic footing means embracing an expansion of the economic  base.

Boosting entrepreneurship in the North must be a priority. The expansion of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has helped. Investing in young entrepreneurs is a solid move forward. Perhaps a solid move might be helping more of the workers from older industries into new directions and into small businesses.

Likely the marketplace is leading Ontario in many ways. Governments are often slower to embrace the leading edge in technology. Legislation often lags behind technology.

For the Ontario government, making the paradigm shift that a digital product is a product will likely boost the entire province.

Political Directions

Ontario Liberal Leader, Premier Kathleen Wynne
Ontario Liberal Leader, Premier Kathleen Wynne

It is very possible over the coming months that there could be an election. The Throne Speech will outline the priorities for this session of the Legislature and the politicians will start the debate over the direction that the Wynne Government wants to go.

For the North, engagement from all of the communities, the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation; Anishnawbek Nation, the Northern Ontario Municipal Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Thunder Bay, and all of our elected officials will going to be key to moving forward in a focused manner.

Community engagement across the region is a piece that must also be added to the discussion.

Premier Wynne in a conference call with Northern Media relayed that she is seeking information and will be consulting with Ontarians, and with stakeholders. 

Much of that engagement has already happened. Between the Northern Growth Report, the Northern Growth Plan, and several of the other planning documents, the direction is already set.

There is lots of room for bold and broad plans, and new additions to the recipe for success. Moving our region forward is in the best interests of all parties, not just political ones.

James Murray

Content and News Director


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