Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Michael Gravelle is the Liberal Minister of Northern Development and Mines
I appreciate the concerns raised by Carlos Santander-Maturana in his letter of April 17 (Priorities Lie Elsewhere). However, our government members voted against the private member’s bill, the Mining Amendment Act, precisely because we want to protect and encourage job growth in the mining sector.
Creating a protectionist environment by requiring all ore mined in Ontario to be refined in the province would neither protect the important mining jobs we have, nor encourage further investment in this key sector.
Ontario is one of the leading mining jurisdictions in North America and benefits greatly from the ability to move minerals across borders. Many other jurisdictions currently take advantage of the expertise and resources available in Ontario, shipping their minerals here for refinement.
Four of Ontario’s five largest mineral processing facilities receive two-thirds or more of their feed from outside the province and their economic viability, as well as the jobs they create, depend very much on the movement of minerals from outside of Ontario. This could be threatened under the protectionist environment this act would have led to.
Our government continues to work diligently to ensure the greatest value-added benefits are derived from mining activities in Ontario.
The mining industry already provides over 27,000 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs to the people of this province and our mineral production sector is now worth almost $11 billion.
A good part of this benefit is derived from ore being brought into Ontario from outside the province for processing.
However well-intentioned MPP Mike Mantha’s private member’s bill may be, the fact is mining and steel industries benefit from this movement of minerals and the flexibility we presently have.
His bill would remove that flexibility.
The priority for our government is clear; to maintain and create jobs here in Ontario.
Ultimately, what frustrates me is the implication made by this gentleman, comments which were also echoed by MPP Sarah Campbell in a recent article, which suggest that our legislation is creating jobs in other jurisdictions, when the exact opposite is the case.
Hundreds of jobs are being created in Ontario because we are receiving materials from other provinces and other countries; something that would be absolutely threatened if we chose to support Mantha’s amendment.