Archive | North Bay

Fedeli provides new documents – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget – July 16, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

This is an aerial view of Ontario Northland Railway yards in North Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli provided new documents to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk to consider in her special report on the sale of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

Fedeli said the Auditor General’s report is expected to be released by the end of this summer.

“Ministry of Finance documents from January of this year that I’ve unearthed through the Justice Committee’s investigation into the gas plant scandal prove what I’ve maintained from day one – that the Liberal fire sale will achieve no savings,” he said Tuesday.

“In fact, it could cost Ontario taxpayers $1 billion more than the Liberals said it would in their budget last year.” Fedeli said the government was steadfast is telling the public the sale of the ONTC would save taxpayers $260 million. “They weren’t listening to us, but their numbers were wrong,” he said. “We asked the Auditor General to get involved and prove who is right.

“There’s no hesitation, our numbers are right. I wanna ask how can this government go through with this sale? The budget will have to be changed and why would a party sell something to lose a billion dollars?” Continue Reading →

Premier open to options with ONTC – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – June 20, 2013)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government is open to other options surrounding the sell-off of the ONTC. She said it is important to listen to industry, municipalities and other stakeholders before a final decision is made.

During a phone interview Thursday with The Daily Press, Wynne said her government is listening to all stakeholders regarding the privatization of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. She said this is one of the reasons a special stakeholders committee was struck with Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle at the table.

“The minister is in conversation with all of that right now. He has said quite distinctly that complete divestiture is not the only option,” Wynne said. “We need to take a step back and work with those community voices.

“One of my concerns when I was Minister of Community Affairs and Housing, when I attended the FONOM (Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities) conference a couple of years ago, I was very concerned there was not local voices in the whole discussions around the ONTC and so we’ve changed that. So that’s the work the minister is doing right now with his advisory group.”

The Premier explained the government must look at the big picture before any more parts of the ONTC are let go. Continue Reading →

ONTC sale not certain – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – June 12, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The sale of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission is no longer a sure thing for the provincial Liberals. The party, which announced in March 2012 plans to divest the ONTC of its assets, has softened its position on the proposed sale.

“On the surface, it’s better than what we had in the past which was a fist in the face,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis, who is also the Progressive Conservative candidate for Temiskaming-Cochrane. However, Politis remains sceptical.

“Where I’m a little fatigued as a mayor is listening to the government drop a few seeds of hope” and then proceeding to disappoint Northerners, said Politis. “If the party in power was serious about other options, why haven’t they stopped the divestment process while we explore these other options?

“They haven’t changed anything … Bids are still being accepted and analyzed. Sure the discussion is more cordial but the facts concerning divestment of the ONTC remain the same.” Politis told The Daily Press he has told the PC leadership, “As an elected member, I would push to stop the divestment of the ONTC immediately.”

However, MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP – Timmins-James Bay) suggested the Tories are more committed to forcing an election they think they can win, than trying to derail the sale of the ONTC. Continue Reading →

ONTC sale could cost $790 million, Fedeli says – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – May 31, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli pointed to newly divulged documents Friday as evidence Ontario Northland Transportation Commission can’t be sold because of $790-million in liabilities associated with its sale.

“The government has stated they wanted to divest Ontario Northland to save money. Their own documents prove they now know any sale will actually cost the taxpayer $790 million,” said Fedeli, during a news conference this morning at his North Bay constituency office.

The Ministry of Finance documents, released to the standing committee on justice as part of the gas plant investigation, outline “worst case” estimates for transitional funding to support the divestment process. According to the documents, labour and severance costs alone are estimated at $250 million, up from $25 million originally earmarked as part of the planning process for divestment.

The $250-million estimate, however, assumes no employment by a new owner or labour strategy; that all eligible employees receive employment security; and that all eligible employees collect full benefits over a period of up to 14 years.

“I have said from day one their math doesn’t add up, and there will be no savings through this fire sale,” said Fedeli. “I call on the Premier to end this charade, take Ontario Northland off the chopping block, and do what we’ve asked from the beginning: have a Strategic Review of all assets and make Ontario Northland the economic engine of the North.” Continue Reading →

ONTC: Options for Ontera – by Maria Calabrese (North Bay Nugget – May 25, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

NORTH BAY – The telecommunications arm of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission is back on the table for options other than divestment.

Local politicians are hoping that won’t matter as they anticipate an announcement from the province that could bode well for the future of the Crown agency put up for sale by the province 14 months ago.

“I believe this issue will be resolved very quickly this summer,” said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. “The Liberals will want this resolved before the auditor general comes out with his report. Once his report comes out, they’ll have to end the fire sale.”

Fedeli called in the auditor general to look into ONTC divestment which he said would cost $530 million in pension, benefits, workers’ compensation, severance and other liabilities based on ONTC financial statements, contradicting the government’s projected savings of $265 million.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle penned letters as recently as April 29 indicating the divestment process was still underway, and softened the government stance after those numbers were made public by suggesting there are options to divestment, Fedeli said. Continue Reading →

ONTC talks spur hope – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – May 20, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The fate of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission hasn’t been sealed just yet.

At the second of what is expected to be a string of many advisory committee meetings on the ONTC, MPP Michael Gravelle (Liberal-Thunder Bay–Superior North) reiterated his stance that the province is opening itself up to options other than divestment.

Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek, who is president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, said the outcome of last week’s meeting in Toronto was “very positive.”

“It’s important to note that his statement was – and he clarified that again – that divestment wasn’t the only option,” said Spacek about Gravelle’s comments. “It doesn’t mean divestment is off the table.

“But certainly, the previous position of the government was, ‘It’s divestment, period.’ Now, since they’ve adopted this other view, we found that as a very positive sign. Based on our meeting … we’re going to start to make some good progress.”

Spacek added that the meeting consisted of “a lot of frank and candid discussion. At this meeting, we did sign our non-disclosure agreements, so we were able to discuss some of the normally confidential aspects of the operation.” Continue Reading →

Meeting focused on ONTC studies, finances – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – May 16, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

North Bay Mayor Al McDonald was upbeat Thursday as he emerged from an ONTC advisory committee meeting in Toronto involving Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle.

It was the first meeting of the advisory group, involving Northern Ontario municipal politicians and stakeholders, since Gravelle’s announcement last week that divestment should not be the only option for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

And McDonald said the meeting was in “stark contrast” to those that previously took place with former Northern Development Minister Rick Bartolucci. “It was a great meeting,” he said, unable to disclose specific details because the group is working under an agreement of confidentiality.

McDonald, however, was able to say that much of the meeting focused on studies and financial information regarding the Crown agency. And he said the conversation during the last portion of the three-hour meeting centred on divestment not being the only option.

He said the entire group is working in the same direction and wants what’s best for Northern Ontario. McDonald said the group also recognizes that time is of the essence and “something needs to be done quickly.” Continue Reading →

ONTC ‘essential’ for economy: Hudak – by Maria Calabrese (North Bay Nugget – May 16, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

The Conservatives want the province to get out of the alcohol business while promising the publicly owned Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has a place in the province’s future.

“The government I lead will see the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as an essential element for economic infrastructure. It’s going to open up jobs and create wealth in our province, not shut it down,” Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said during a conference call to Northern media Wednesday.

“How are you going to get Northeastern Ontario’s economy to rebound if you tear apart the ONTC?” Hudak asked.

He made the comments as LCBO workers draw closer to their strike deadline Friday ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend. They’re threatening to walk off the job over part-time, temporary work and the lack of quality, full-time positions.

Hudak distinguished his support for one Crown agency and intent to dismantle another by saying the Liberal decision to end the ONTC was politically motivated while the Conservative plan to privatize the LCBO will give residents more choice.

Many communities don’t have an LCBO and are looking to the private sector for access to beer, wine and spirits which would increase revenue to the province, Hudak said. Continue Reading →

Gravelle: divestment not the only option – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget- May 11, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

Divestment should not be the only option for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, says Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle.

Reflecting a major change in the province’s approach to the ONTC, Gravelle told municipal politicians Friday during a Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference in Parry Sound that he’s come to the conclusion other avenues need to be explored when it comes to the future of the Crown agency.

“We need to be open to options other than divestment,” said Gravelle, noting the shift is a result of feedback he’s received since taking on the Northern Development and Mines portfolio earlier this year.

Gravelle said that includes feedback from an ONTC advisory committee he established consisting of Northern stakeholders, including North Bay Mayor Al McDonald. He said the committee is slated to meet in Toronto on Thursday and will discuss what some of those other possible options for the ONTC may include.

“It will be an important meeting,” said Gravelle. While in North Bay in March for the advisory committee’s inaugural meeting, Gravelle told the media that clearly the decision has been made and that province is moving forward with divestment. Continue Reading →

Gravelle signals possible shift in direction – by Bruce Cowan (North Bay Nugget- May 11, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

What a difference two months can make, especially if the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne is prepared to do everything it can to retain power now and following the next provincial election.

In February, newly minted Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle told The Nugget that divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission would continue and there would be no dramatic shift in direction.

He did leave the door open to “significant community input into that process” and formed a minister’s advisory committee, which included Mayor Al McDonald and other northern mayors who have a stake in the divestment outcome. Gravelle even came to North Bay to sit down with the committee and hear their concerns.

Today, there has indeed been a shift in direction, or at least in what’s said publicly. At the Federation of Northern Ontario Muncipalities’ conference in Parry Sound, Gravelle hinted that divestment may not be the only option. That was not lost on McDonald, who tweeted the news immediately.

Premier Wynne, speaking at the same conference, went further. She said ONTC and Metrolinx need to work together, echoing talk prior to the divestment announcement that a strategic alliance between the two agencies might make sense and provide ongoing refurbishment work for Ontario Northland shops. Continue Reading →

Little for [Ontario] north, MPPs – by PJ Wilson (North Bay Nugget – May 3, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

Northern Ontario got short shrift in Thursday’s provincial budget, according to opposition MPPs in the region.

“Northern Ontario was only mentioned twice, and that was in passing,” Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said after the minority Liberal government unveiled its $127.6-billion spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Fedeli said even the much-heralded Ring of Fire mining project in Northwestern Ontario, prominently mentioned in the last provincial budget, has totally fallen out of sight. “That means, to us, that it is no longer a priority for the government.”

Fedeli said also absent from the budget was any mention of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, which the province announced it was divesting in March, 2012. “That really surprised me because it leaves a $500-million hole in the budget,” Fedeli said.

Among provisions in the budget are a $260-million boost for home care health services, a $295-million plan to fight youth unemployment, a 15% auto insurance rate cut and assistance for people on welfare and disability.

The budget projects an $11.7-billion deficit. Continue Reading →

ONTC sale could cost $500M, MPP says – by Maria Calabrese (North Bay Nugget – April 27, 2013)

http://www.nugget.ca/

NORTH BAY – Severance, pensions and other liabilities could cost the province more than $500 million if the Liberal government goes ahead with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission sale, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“I think they have provided a false scenario to Northern Ontario, a false scenario in their budget, and I intend to prove it,” Fedeli said during an announcement Friday to introduce the PC party’s Northern plan ahead of the provincial budget May 2.

Fedeli repeated calls to stop ONTC divestment, review the Crown corporation’s assets and guarantee rail freight will not be privatized.

He has brought in Ontario’s auditor general to review ONTC financial statements and believes pensions, benefits and workers’ compensation would wipe out the $265 million the province estimates it will save in the sale, and doubles that cost when it comes to offering severances to the hundreds of workers who could lose their jobs.

Boosting economic development was the underlying message in the Conservative Northern plan, released simultaneously by leader Tim Hudak in Thunder Bay and by Fedeli in North Bay. Continue Reading →

Angus disappointed with lack of [Ring of Fire railroad] plan – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – April 11, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Members of the federal opposition were taking shots at a government “pipe-dream” this week – and for once it had nothing to do with oil sands.

MP Charlie Angus (NDP–Timmins-James Bay) said he was upset to look through the federal budget and see only cuts to rail service across the country.

He was particularly upset about the lack of mention of the James Bay Port Authority. The idea of a central, federally owned rail and infrastructure corporation — potentially located in the Moosonee region — was the source of much discussion within Northern municipalities, the federal government, and worker’s unions alike over the past year.

“I’m shocked,” Angus said. “I looked through the budget and there’s really no plan for Northern Ontario. One of the big promises being floated was to develop this James Bay Port Authority, and it was being proposed as a way of helping save Northern rail infrastructure. So what happened, where is it?”

On the heels of the provincial Liberals’ decision to sell off the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) in March 2012, followed by the cancellation of the Northland passenger train service in September 2012, there was uproar in Northern Ontario about the perceived lack of transparency and consultation. Continue Reading →

Angus disappointed with lack of plan – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – April 11, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Members of the federal opposition were taking shots at a government “pipe-dream” this week – and for once it had nothing to do with oil sands.

MP Charlie Angus (NDP–Timmins-James Bay) said he was upset to look through the federal budget and see only cuts to rail service across the country.

He was particularly upset about the lack of mention of the James Bay Port Authority. The idea of a central, federally owned rail and infrastructure corporation — potentially located in the Moosonee region — was the source of much discussion within Northern municipalities, the federal government, and worker’s unions alike over the past year.

“I’m shocked,” Angus said. “I looked through the budget and there’s really no plan for Northern Ontario. One of the big promises being floated was to develop this James Bay Port Authority, and it was being proposed as a way of helping save Northern rail infrastructure. So what happened, where is it?”

On the heels of the provincial Liberals’ decision to sell off the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) in March 2012, followed by the cancellation of the Northland passenger train service in September 2012, there was uproar in Northern Ontario about the perceived lack of transparency and consultation. Continue Reading →

North Bay group promotes mining industry – by Liz Cowan (Northern Ontario Business – April 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

For some, mining is associated with a preconceived notion that it is a dirty, lowtech industry. The Canadian Institute of Mining’s (CIM) Northern Gateway Branch in North Bay is working to change that misconception.

“We tried so many things over the years to get a hold of young people and let them know what the industry is really about,” said chair Tom Palangio. “We went to the schools to explain what mining was, and we even rented buses and got whole classrooms out on field trips.”

For the past few years, the branch has been financially supporting the teachers’ mining tour, a week-long conference organized by the Ontario Mining Association and held at the Canadian Ecology Centre in Mattawa every summer.

During the week, teachers learn about mineral exploration, mine development, geology and sectors of the economy supported by mining directly and indirectly. Along with hands-on training through workshops, the teachers have an opportunity to see mining operations, such as visiting operations in Sudbury and mining manufacturing facilities in North Bay. Continue Reading →