OMA President Gives Mining a Voice at Ontario Economic Summit

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The participation of Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson in the 7th annual Ontario Economic Summit provided the mineral sector with a voice on the high-level program.  Mr. Hodgson was a panelist on a session dealing with Ontario’s regulatory regime titled “Smarter Approaches to Regulation.”  The summit was held November 1 to 3, 2010 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The moderator of the regulations panel was James Milway, Executive Director of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity.  Other participants with Mr. Hodgson included Jennifer Ahluwalia from Dillon Consulting, Rudy van Zijp who is General Secretary of Actal (advisory board on administrative burden in the Netherlands) and Ontario Environment Minister John Wilkinson.

Mr. Zijp provided an interesting perspective on efforts in Europe to eliminate inefficient regulatory burdens.  Mr. Hodgson used some current examples in Ontario with safety being a success story of continuous improvement.

The safety performance statistics to the end of August 2010 show a lost time injury rate of 0.3 per 200,000 hours worked for mining in Ontario, perhaps the best of any industry in the province.  Over the past 20 years, Ontario’s mining sector has improved its lost time injury rate by 91% and has improved its total medical aid frequency by 65%.  The leadership being shown involving employers, unions and government as partners is working to improve safety.

Mining safety statistics are moving in the right direction because of personal diligence and concern for one’s self and one’s colleagues.  There are a number of initiatives and institutions supporting this progress.  OMA programs, the Internal Responsibility System, inspections and programs from the Ministry of Labour, regulatory changes and adjustments to Common Core skills training along with the role of the sectoral safety group Workplace Safety North and unions have played strong parts in these gains.

He contrasted this with the Toxics Reduction Act, which creates more unproductive work for companies without providing any matching benefits to either the environment or public health.  “While the intent of the Toxics Reduction Act is reasonable, its implementation needs more thought,” said Mr. Hodgson.  The regulations with this act require reporting for substances that are found in the human body, the contents of vitamin pills and medications and are natural components of the Earth.  Other jurisdictions have taken a more practical approach to this and modified the inclusion of minerals in these regulations. 

“The mining industry has a long history of being a solution provider in Ontario.  It generates prosperity, provides jobs and fosters development in all parts of the province,” said Mr. Hodgson.  “Products derived from mining are essential to building the greener lifestyles of tomorrow.  We must work together to design smart regulations that protect the environment and make Ontario attractive to business.” 

The Ontario Economic Summit bills itself as an event that “brings together some of the most successful and influential leaders from business, government, labour, NGOs and academia in a collaborative effort to help build increased economic prosperity in Ontario.  With two hundred exclusively invited participants, the Annual Summit involves thought-provoking debates, one-of-a-kind networking and inspiring new solutions for driving Ontario’s economy forward.”

Other sessions at the summit dealt with the topics “Gateways to Growth: Ontario’s Transportation Infrastructure,” “21st Century Workforce Strategies’ and “The Innovation Investment.”  Along with the presentation of a report on Ontario Colleges’ Contribution to Economic and Social Development Through Applied R&D, there were presentations by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and meetings with Liberal Cabinet Ministers.   The keynote address at the summit was by David Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist for Gluskin Sheff on “The global economy in transition and what this means for Ontario.”