THUNDER BAY – Premier Kathleen Wynne has completed her swing through much of Northern Ontario. While the Premier didn’t stop in Thunder Bay she was in Sudbury, Espanola, Sault Ste Marie, Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Moosenee.
In Moosenee, the Premier announced funding for infrastructure upgrades. The Premier announced that the Town of Moosonee will receive up to $1.5 million to help replace water mains and sanitary sewer mains.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement in Moosonee as part of a week-long trip to more than a dozen communities across the North. The investment is through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), which gives communities access to stable and predictable annual funding for roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and other key infrastructure.
In February, the Premier announced that Ontario will triple its investments through OCIF, from $100 million in 2015-16 to $300 million in 2018-19. Of the $300 million allocated for 2018-19, the province will allocate $100 million for municipalities to apply to invest in crucial infrastructure projects, and $200 million for predictable, formula-based funding.
Moosonee is one of hundreds of municipalities across Ontario to have received support through OCIF. Since the government launched the fund in August 2014, it has supported 137 infrastructure projects through its application-based component, for a total investment of $174 million. And since January 2015, OCIF has provided grants to 425 municipalities through its formula-based component, for a total of $100 million. These investments are creating jobs and supporting local economic growth across the province.
The Premier, speaking in Moosenee also addressed the issue of the Northern Ontario movement for separation stating simply “It is a bad idea”.
In North Bay on Friday the Premier was there to unveil the first of 16 refurbished passenger coaches as part of the renewal of the Polar Bear Express train.
The Ontario Government’s $17-million investment in the Polar Bear Express will upgrade and modernize a rail service that provides an essential link for people and businesses in the North – the only year-round ground transportation connecting Cochrane to Moosonee and the James Bay Coast. The refurbished rail cars will improve the travel experience for passengers, offering them new seats with electrical and USB charging, accessible washrooms, modern flooring, enhanced luggage space, comfortable dining cars and a family car.
This is one of a series of announcements the Premier made during her week-long trip to Northern Ontario to help deliver on the government’s commitments to support job creation, economic growth and quality of life across the North. Other highlights of the trip include:
- Announcing an investment of $2.3 million for five film and TV productions shooting in Sudbury, while touring the TV set for Letterkenny, a successful comedy series
- Announcing $2.5 million in funding over three years for a pilot project for five rural health hubs — four of them in the North — while at the Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre
- Announcing an increase of $120 million in funding to repair and renew schools across the North, while at Northern Heights Public School in Sault Ste. Marie
- Attending a federal government announcement in Dryden to welcome its partnership in supporting the Experimental Lakes Area
- Highlighting the province’s investments in economic development through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) during an NOHFC board meeting in Kenora
- Announcing expanded health care services for Indigenous people, while at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre
- Announcing $1.5 million in support for a project to improve the Town of Moosonee’s water supply through the Ontario Community Investment Fund, which is helping hundreds of small, rural and northern municipalities build and repair key infrastructure.
- The Polar Bear Express is being refurbished by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. The project is supporting 25 local jobs in North Bay.
- The Polar Bear Express has operated continuously for over 50 years. More than 55,000 passengers travel on the train each year.
- The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario is helping to build a resilient and sustainable regional economy — with a focus on 11 existing and emerging priority sectors; expanding education, training and career opportunities for northerners; and attracting people and investments.
“Our government is building a strong economy for Northern Ontario that creates good jobs and supports vibrant communities. Through the initiatives I announced this week, including the refurbished Polar Bear Express, we are building on the North’s many strengths to ensure that people have the opportunities they need to live healthy and prosperous lives,” stated Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario.
“Our government remains committed to ensuring that Northern communities and industries benefit from viable, efficient and sustainable transportation systems. The new equipment on the Polar Bear Express will go miles in supporting this goal and in supporting transformation at Ontario Northland.”
Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC, and MPP for Thunder Bay Superior North was with the Premier for her swing through the north. “We are proud to deliver the first car of the Polar Bear Express remanufacturing project. The refurbished equipment has been thoughtfully built to meet the needs of our passengers, and it showcases the quality refurbishment work produced by our Remanufacturing and Repair Centre,” commented the Minister.