Ontario and federal cabinet ministers keep in touch regularly on important projects including the Ring of Fire, claims Kathleen Wynne.
Ontario’s premier paid a visit to Thunder Bay last week and spoke about the massive chromite project in the lower James Bay area known as the Ring of Fire.
She made it clear that communication with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet is much better than under the former Conservative government.
“Unlike the previous government, we actually have regular conversations between ministers about these files,” Wynne said.
“The Ring of Fire project is about opening up an area of the North that is ripe for economic development, but it is also about opening up communities. The Matawa First Nations have been partners in this. We have a framework agreement in which we are working. I have made it clear that we need to work with all of the communities involved.”
Wynne gave examples of training work that is going on and a corridor study to allow for decisions around infrastructure.
The premier shared a vision for the project by saying there will be mines and resources extracted but also more all-weather roads.
“There will be roads that will connect communities that are not connected now to major routes,” she said.
“There will be new roads that will be built in order to access those commodities. There will be partnerships between government, companies and First Nations that will allow for a future economic prosperity for children who are now living in those communities.”
Michael Gravelle, Ontario minister of Northern Development and Mines, said he has spoken with the federal ministers of Natural Resources and Indigenous Affairs regarding the issues faced by First Nations and the infrastructure needs, which are all a part of the regional framework agreement.
Gravelle indicated that positive work has taken place with First Nation communities.
Wynne also addressed Bombardier missing delivery timelines for new streetcars to the Toronto Transit Commission.
She said it was disappointing the timelines weren’t met, but added that the company is important to Thunder Bay, the province and Canada. She hoped the company would be successful.
“I believe they are also taking some steps at this point to change some of their business practices and to speed up the process,” added Wynne. Like Bombardier, the forestry sector has also seen some hard times.
Wynne said she has been clear with the federal government that they want the softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. renewed.
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