Ring of Fire funding a must with or without feds – by Jeff Labine (Timmins Daily Press – August 12, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The Minister of Northern Development and Mines believes stable federal funding for infrastructure is needed to ensure the province’s economic growth. But the province will still spend upwards of $1 billion on infrastructure for the Ring of Fire with, or without, federal backing.

Premier Kathleen Wynne recently urged the Conservative federal government to increase funding for infrastructure to 2% of the GDP annually or roughly $12 billion a year. That’s about four times the amount that the province currently gets from Ottawa.

Wynne called out the federal government while attending a special inter-provincial summit on infrastructure in Toronto last week.

Infrastructure has been a major focus for the recently formed majority government as the province plans to spend $13 billion on infrastructure this year alone. By 2015, the province plans to invest $2.5 billion for highway rehabilitation and expansion.

The long-term plan is to invest $130 billion in infrastructure throughout the province over the next decade while also promising to eliminate the $12 billion deficit in the next three years.

Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, said the federal government needs to recognize that it plays an important role when it comes to Ontario’s infrastructure needs.

“Our economy needs consistent and adequate infrastructure investment from all levels of government,” he said. “What has happened I think over the last couple of years is that the infrastructure investments have fluctuated from year to year. I think it is fair and accurate to say that our province and other provinces and the territories have been doing what they can to build up their infrastructure, which creates jobs, supports growth in the economy and the premier’s strong point was that we need federal support that is permanent.”

Gravelle said the statements by Wynne speak to major projects such as the Ring of Fire development, but not it specifically as the main focus is to increase the funding to 2%.

He repeated the call for Ottawa to match the $1 billion the province has already promised to develop the Ring of Fire — the largest mineral discovery in more than a century. The province has promised to keep the billion-dollar investment with or without federal support.

Gravelle said the Ring of Fire development is considered to be a nationally significant project.

“Our focus is making sure the federal government meets its commitment to support this nationally significant project,” he said. “The premier’s comments last week spoke to the larger, long-term infrastructure needs in the province and across the country.”

Gravelle added that he will be meeting with FedNor Minister Greg Rickford later this month at a energy and mines conference where they will be discussing a number of issues.

For the original site of this article, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2014/08/11/ring-of-fire-funding-a-must-with-or-without-feds