Steady decline in FedNor funding – by Alan S. Hale (Timmins Daily Press – May 27, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Funding for Northern Ontario initiatives through FedNor has been reduced by 25% since the Conservatives came to power in Ottawa in 2006.

In addition to those cuts, over the past six years more than $14 million of available funding for the region was not spent at all. That’s according to annual financial reports that are accessible to the public online.

FedNor (Federal Economic Initiative for Northern Ontario) money is used fund anything from major infrastructure upgrades for Northern Ontario municipalities, to helping support fledgling businesses and small non-profit organizations.

The apparent scaling back of the program under the Conservatives has outraged MP Charlie Angus (NDP — Timmins-James Bay) who believes the Conservatives have sacrificed a program vital to the region’s economy to pay for their pre-election recent budget surplus.

“Quite clearly, the Conservatives are bad for business in Northern Ontario,” said Angus. “Cutting money from economic development is not how you build an economy. Tools like FedNor are essential for us to make sure we have a diversified economy because we are a boom/bust economy.

“Why pull money back from starting businesses and ensuring growth for an existing operation? It doesn’t make sense, but that’s how they operate. A good example of this is their promise to take leadership on the Ring of Fire … then they didn’t deliver, and they walked. The Ring of Fire is still sitting there without any federal or provincial leadership.”

According to the annual Public Accounts of Canada reports, the Conservatives began to cut back the program immediately after coming to power in 2006. In the 2005/06 budget, $44.5 million was allocated to FedNor. Last year it was $34.8 million.

The Library of Parliament has also produced an analysis of FedNor’s funding which included in their calculations the money for specific tourism, community futures and economic development programs that fall under the FedNor’s jurisdiction.

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