KENORA – NATIONAL POLITICS – Eric Melillo, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs and FedNor is asking why the government gave an $800,000 FedNor loan to a tech company operating out of Southern Ontario.
“We know that this company forwards their mail from Sault Ste. Marie, but that they’re actually located in Southern Ontario,” Kenora riding MP Eric Melillo said of Skritswap Inc. “They also have job opportunities and employees in B.C. and California, of all places. So, what’s missing here is anything to justify them receiving funding which is designated for Northern Ontario.”
Melillo in a statement says that local media have reported that Skritswap has just a single employee based out of Sudbury and has created no jobs in Sault Ste. Marie. While the company lists its corporate address as the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), the staff there have reported that Skritswap makes minimal use of the space. Shortly after the funding decision was announced last year, SSMIC executive director Peter Bruijns contacted FedNor to raise alarms.
In Question Period last week, Melillo asked Liberal Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly if Skritswap has created a single job in Sault Ste. Marie. She dodged the question according to Melillo.
Melillo says this controversy calls the fairness of FedNor into question.
“I’m very concerned that the government spent money meant for Northern Ontario on an organization with very few employees in the region,” he stated. “I can’t help but wonder how many small businesses in Northern Ontario may have been passed over for funding in favour of less deserving companies who may not even operate here.”
FedNor is the federal government’s Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario. The loan to Skritswap was announced by Sault Ste. Marie Liberal MP Terry Sheehan in June of 2019.
Melillo pledged to get to the bottom of this and to keep fighting for investments in the North. “Canadians deserve to know their tax dollars are being spent effectively, and businesses in Northern Ontario deserve fairness,” he concluded.