Sudbury PoV: City’s politicians must work together – by Don MacDonald (Sudbury Star – January 13, 2016)

Don MacDonald is the editor of the Sudbury Star.

The thing about commodity prices is you can never be sure when they are going to drop and, when they do, how long it will take for them to recover.

Nationally, Canadians are seeing the effect of low oil prices on the Alberta and Canadian economies: thousands of jobs lost, alarming drops in capital spending, a decline in the value of the loonie and the inflation that causes, and billions in government revenues gone.

Sudbury is experiencing something similar as the prices of nickel, copper and other metals fall. This time last year, nickel was selling for close to $7 a pound U.S. Today, it’s selling for less than $3.80. Experts had predicted nickel would recover by the end of 2015, but that never happened.

It may not get the same attention nationally, but the drop in metal prices is starting to bite mining communities. In Sudbury, 5,000 jobs were lost in 2015 and unemployment rose to 8.4 per cent in December 2015.

The reason for the drop in metal prices is not too hard to figure out — there is too much nickel, copper and other minerals being produced for the demand. Some analysts have called on companies to close operations, cut supply and wait for prices to recover.

In Sudbury, smaller producers have shuttered operations, such as First Nickel (Lockerkby Mine) and KGHM (McCreedy West). Also affected are the thousands of mining services and supply workers in Sudbury whose employers are feeling the pinch of the mining slump.

So far — although there are plenty of rumours — Vale and Glenclore have held the line in Sudbury.

So, it’s no wonder Sudbury’s job market took a hit in 2015. And make no mistake, it won’t improve until metal prices and demand recover. There is little government can do to change that.

That doesn’t mean governments have no role in bolstering Sudbury’s economic prospects in the short term. The city, the province and Ottawa could ramp up the Maley Drive extension and other capital spending to fix roads and infrastructure. As well, the city could have construction of a new arena started by next year by expediting private-sector bids.

There are other ideas that could inject investment and jobs into Sudbury’s economy.

With city council leading, the area’s politicians (especially its two MPs and MPPs) need to work together, putting aside any personal and partisan differences, to get those ideas moving.

For the original source of this editorial, click here:

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