Tories, NDP fighting over FedNor – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – April 3, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A war of words being waged over the federal government’s plan to support economic development in Northern Ontario.

Due to a lack of information regarding the 2013 budget, that’s about all we know. On Tuesday, the NDP sent out a press release denouncing the ruling Conservatives for “slashing economic development investment in Northern Ontario.”

It stated that FedNor (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario) was facing cuts in the 2013 budget – from $73 million in 2012 to $60.3 million by 2014.

With the government seeking ways to balance the federal budget, MP Charlie Angus (NDP – Timmins-James Bay) said, “There is no real rationalization for trying to get us out of a slow economy by cutting an economic investment.

“FedNor is a major stimulus for getting new business starts, for getting companies re-tooled, so it pays itself off because it’s a driver of the economy. For the Conservatives to be taking a serious whack at economic development investment in the North, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Angus said funding from FedNor is essential to allowing businesses in Northern Ontario to compete with others based in more opportune locations and regions.

“Unfortunately, the Conservative attitude to the entire national economy, they believe that just because we’re in a base metal or natural resource boom right now that everything’s going to be OK,” said Angus. “But we need diversification, we need supply industries, we need tech jobs.

“We can’t just rely on the fact that the government believes there’s going to be the Ring of Fire.

“We need other investment to support a growing economy, and that’s what this government is walking away on.”

He added that the government’s 2011-2012 plans and priorities included “promising that they’d be spending $83.7 million a year on economic development in 2013-14.”

He said the $60 million or so the NDP believes the Conservatives will be promising won’t cut it for the North.

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