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The Ring of Fire received passionate lip service from the Ontario government in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s 2013 “prosperous and fair” budget. The Wynne government promised to keep working with industry and First Nations to “explore and develop mineral extraction opportunities…in an environmentally sustainable way.”
No mention was made of a financial commitment toward transportation infrastructure to the future mining camps of the Ring of Fire in the James Bay lowlands.
“The government will continue to assert Ontario’s pride in manufacturing, financial services, tourism, forestry and natural resource development,” said Wynne in her budget speech.
The government plans to extend its Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program, which helps cut power cuts to Ontario’s largest industries. The three-year program, announced in March 2010, will be extended with an additional $360 million over three years.
Among the government’s promises to business include job creation through investments in public transit, roads, bridges, hospitals and schools.
More than $35 billion in infrastructure investments will be providing over the next three years, including a special Northern Ontario and rural fund to address roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.
In mentioning First Nations resource revenue sharing, the province said it was “committed” to helping the communities receive the benefits from mineral extraction.
The government plans to continue with the Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program which assists with opportunities in the energy sector. Two loan guarantees have been approved under the program with the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Project and with ongoing construction on the Lower Mattagami Project.
Among the pledges to Ontario businesses was a commitment to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment by providing assistance to manufacturers of $265 million over three years.
The government also pledged to work with Ottawa to expand international markets for Ontario-made goods and services.
The government projects Ontario’s economy to grow moderately over several years. Trade is expected to be a key growth contributor and Ontario will benefit from strong exports to the U.S. as the American economy recovers.