Premier wants ‘shovels in the ground’ at Ring of Fire – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – May 12, 2017)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne committed Thursday to consult with Northern Ontario municipal leaders on economic development strategies for the region.

Wynne told delegates at the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference that’s she’s “absolutely open” to a suggestion brought to her during the event that she sit down with the mayors of Northern Ontario’s five largest municipalities, as well as the heads of FONOM and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, to discuss economic development.

Although the province is already working on an economic development plan, Wynne said she wants to hear from the groups in order to get an immediate take on what some of the opportunities may be and to discuss ways to improve what’s being done.

“The ONTC (Ontario Northland Transportation Commission) is important to North Bay, it’s important to the region. But, maybe there are other things that we should be doing,” she said.

Her remarks were made as part of what was dubbed a “fireside chat” during the conference with local Liberal Jason Corbett.

The question-and-answer presentation covered everything from health-care funding and school closures to the Ring of Fire and the Northern Development and Mines budget to the declining populations of Northern communities.

Wynne also reaffirmed her support for the North, refuting the notion that “southern Ontario doesn’t care about Northern Ontario.”

“I just want you to know that is just not true – it’s just not true,” said Wynne, noting she always considers the North during discussions at the cabinet table. “I also believe that in order for Ontario to be strong, that means every part of the province needs to be strong.”

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