Federal budget 2015 promises funds for Ring of Fire, forestry – (CBC News Thunder Bay – April 22, 2015)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay

Tuesday’s budget also extends mining exploration tax credit

The federal budget holds plenty of funds for northwestern Ontario, according to Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford.

Rickford, the Conservative MP for the riding of Kenora, said the government will spend $23 million over five years for chromite processing. Chromite is the key mineral in the Ring of Fire mining development area. There were other mining benefits, as well.

“We’ve extended the mining exploration tax credit and expanded the definition of mining exploration expenses to include the costs of community consultations and environmental assessment process to be 100 per cent deductible, effective immediately,” he said on Tuesday.

The Conservative government tabled the federal budget on Tuesday with a $1.4 billion surplus, down from $6.4 billion projected a year ago and $1.9 billion in November.

The budget also includes $86 million over two years for small forest companies to spend on innovation and expanding markets.

Rickford is also the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario. He said people can look forward to more funding announcements from FedNor in the coming months. FedNor is the federal government’s economic development organization for Northern Ontario.

FedNor didn’t get any new money in Tuesday’s budget, but Rickford said more will come once details of the $210 million plan to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday are revealed. The celebrations will include fixing up public buildings, and investing in existing arenas, municipal halls and facilities that will be administered through FedNor, he said.

Promises for business owners

NDP MP John Rafferty said the northwest has been left out with the federal budget and doesn’t address the concerns of Northern Ontarians.

“There’s nothing in the budget for FedNor to at least replace the money, the millions of dollars that’s been taken out of FedNor,” said the representative for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.

Rafferty also said the budget doesn’t address safe drinking water for First Nations, and that the infrastructure spending is not for projects in the region.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP and Green Party deputy leader Bruce Hyer said, despite some positives, he’s generally “disappointed” in the budget.

“This has no profit-and-loss statement, it has no balance sheet. I have three small businesses and my businesses wouldn’t survive if I ran my businesses the way the government runs its business,” he said.

Meanwhile, the president of Thunder Bay’s chamber of commerce said the budget holds a lot of promises for business owners, including cutting the small business tax rate cut to nine per cent from 11 per cent. But most of those benefits are expected for 2016 or later, said Charla Robinson.

However, Robinson said the specific mention of the Ring of Fire and chromite production means the government does recognize their economy opportunity.

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