ANALYSIS: Northern Ontario isn’t just southern Ontario but colder. It also governs itself differently, writes John Michael McGrath, and the flaws in the current system are starting to show
Timmins Mayor Steven Black started off 2018 on a sour note, thanks to a government seated nearly 700 kilometres away: Ontario’s. After more than a year of negotiations between Timmins and other municipalities that share the costs of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (which administers services like Ontario Works), the northerners had finally hammered out an agreement that had cleared the necessary hurdles — until the Ministry of Community and Social Services said no via a letter in December.
Minister Helena Jaczek, heeding the call of mayors who preferred the current cost-sharing formula, put a stop to the changes and called on Timmins and its neighbours to reach a mediated solution over the next year.
The mayor and Timmins council are seeking a legal opinion on whether the province has the legal power to bigfoot them like that, but in the meantime, Black tells TVO.org, it’s a frustrating example of how the north is governed.
“There’s definitely been some significant areas of concern. It’s broken, and it’s going to be very difficult to continue functioning going forward,” Black says about the current system of social-services funding. “They’re doing a review, and hopefully they can address some of our concerns.”
Northern Ontario isn’t just like the south, except colder and more remote. European settlers arrived in the north later, it has never had as many people, and while the south grew up around agriculture and manufacturing, its economy has relied more on mining, forestry, and other resource-extraction industries. As a result, even basic forms of local government are different in the north.
For the rest of this article: https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/the-next-ontario/-why-the-north-needs-regional-governance–and-soon