Archive | Northern Ontario Politics


THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, applauds the landmark funding announced today for a major First Nation led infrastructure project, as Wataynikaneyap Power was awarded $1.6 billion to connect remote First Nation communities to the provincial power grid.

“This is a major achievement, and I honour the determination of Wataynikaneyap Power to bring reliable supplies of electricity to our remote First Nations. Wataynikaneyap has made tremendous progress connecting 16 remote First Nations to the provincial electricity grid in the first phase of this project, and we are pleased that Ontario has funded the expansion of this vital infrastructure to more remote communities.

Connecting our remote First Nations to the provincial energy grid will finally end their reliance on costly and dirty diesel generation and help bring health and economic benefits to our communities.” Continue Reading →

Sault steel mill prepares to build new $55-million alternative port – by David Helwig (Northern Ontario Business – March 16, 2018)

Essar Steel Algoma Inc. is seeking regulatory approvals for a new $55-million alternative port facility, apparently prepared to pull the plug on its existing arrangements with Port of Algoma Inc.

Recently filed court documents disclose that the Sault steelmaker started looking into building a port of its own last August.Early concepts included floating structures, fixed structures or a combination of both.

A prefeasibility investigation conducted for Algoma by a design and construction company concluded earlier this year that a fixed structure for docking ships and unloading raw material was feasible as an alternative to the existing Sault port, subject to securing necessary regulatory approvals. Continue Reading →

Progressive Conservatives outline plan for northern Ontario (CBC News Sudbury – March 16, 2018)

Ford says Ring of Fire project comparable to Alberta oilsands

The leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is promising to move the Ring of Fire mining project forward immediately if elected. Doug Ford and Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli outlined the party’s plan for northern Ontario on Friday.

Ford was voted as the head of the party last weekend, after former leader Patrick Brown stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Ford is promising to develop infrastructure to access the remote mining area in the James Bay lowlands. “If I have to hop on that bulldozer myself with Vic on the other one, we’re going to start building the roads to get to the mining,” he said. Continue Reading →

Ferrochrome smelter bids draw concern from northeastern Ontario communities – by Robin De Angelis (CBC News Sudbury – February 12, 2018)

Noront to select smelter location this spring

As cities across northern Ontario await a decision on the location of Noront’s ferrochrome smelter, some people say they don’t want the site in their backyard.

The former Inco smelter in Coniston was chosen for Sudbury’s bid. If selected, the site would process chromite from Noront’s mining operation in the Ring of Fire. Community members are now mobilizing against the smelter and circulating a petition to “Save Coniston.”

The petition, which has garnered more than 270 signatures, states that “Coniston has long been a place where the earth remained scorched and contaminated from previous industrial processing.” Continue Reading →

LETTER: Disappointed by lack of urgency on Ring of Fire – by Ross Romano (Timmins Daily Press – January 31, 2018)

Ross Romano is the MPP for Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario PC Critic for Northern Jobs and the Ring of Fire.

TIMMINS – I was very disappointed to read in your paper that the Wynne Liberal government is continuing to delay getting to work on developing the Ring of Fire. It did not surprise me given their track record of inaction towards this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The timing of this news is increasingly disturbing given that community bid submissions to host the ferrochrome processing facility are due to Noront Resources Inc. by this coming Friday. The Liberals have known about this opportunity for the North and for all of Ontario for more than 10 years now, yet they continue to drag their feet on this project.

There is still a great deal of work that needs to be done before the shovels can break ground on the Ring of Fire road development. Instead of pursuing meaningful consultations and developing positive relationships in the region, the Liberals only seem to be interested in press releases, photo-ops and re-announcements. Continue Reading →

Seen as first step to multi-modal system with a future rail ‘spine’ (North Bay Nugget -January 25, 2018)

Two Ontario rail advocacy groups say the recent expansion of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) bus service is not only the first sign of hope for Northern public transportation users in many years, but it also paves the way to better rail service in the future.

“Any improvement of our system is welcome, whether that it be rail, bus or any other mode that is applicable and affordable,” says All Aboard Northern Ontario founder Eric Boutilier.

“Northern Ontario has seen nothing but a decline in mobility since January 1990, when the federal government hacked off half of the VIA Rail Canada system. The damage done by those cuts was only made worse by the provincial government’s callous 2012 decision to end the ONTC’s Northlander rail service instead of modernizing it.” Continue Reading →

MEDIA RELEASE: Alliance Between First Nations, Municipal Leaders, and Industry Formed to Defend a Way of Life

Welcomes Nathalie Des Rosiers as Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

January 18, 2018 – An Alliance of First Nation and non-First Nation leaders representing rights holders,  stakeholders, municipal leaders, unions, and Ontario’s forest sector has been formed to defend our way of life, with a mandate to grow the responsible use of natural resources in northern and rural Ontario.

Chief Thomas Johnson Jr., Seine River First Nation, said, “In light of reconciliation and economic sustainability, we as First Nations and non-First Nations must rally in support of one another to defend our shared forestry interests and lands unique to northern and rural Ontario through a working alliance, forged on the principles of unity, strength and prosperity.

Our collective action reaches beyond today by working to secure a sustainable future for the generations to come. As the Chief of Seine River, I stand in solidarity with The Alliance. I am calling all treaty partners to join and support us in moving the reconciliation agenda forward.” Continue Reading →

Why Ontario’s north needs regional governance — and soon – by John Michael McGrath (TV Ontario – January 16, 2018)

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. Continue Reading →

Rural medicine: How a gamble to bring in doctors is paying off – by ANDRÉ PICARD (Globe and Mail – January 15, 2018)

Twelve years after the first class began at The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, many remote communities have ‘gone from crisis mode to planning mode’ thanks to graduates, the majority of which opt to practise in rural areas

When the Northern Ontario School of Medicine was created, it was based on a simple – but untested – premise: If you educate and train physicians in rural and remote northern communities, they will be more likely to practise there.

Twelve years later, the gamble is paying off better than anyone expected: 94 per cent of NOSM graduates who do a family medicine residency in the North stay there to practise, and 69 per cent of all graduates, specialists and GPs alike, have opted to work in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Ontario.

“Has it worked?” Dr. Roger Strasser, the dean of NOSM asks. “Yes it has. Many northern communities have gone from crisis mode to planning mode thanks to our graduates. But we’re still a long way from having the medical care we need in Northern Ontario.” Continue Reading →

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli ‘excited’ Northern passenger rail has been proposed – by Gord Young (North Bay Nugget – October 13, 2017)

he return of passenger rail service to Northern Ontario is among the many policy proposals Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives will be voting on early next month. “I’m very excited about this proposal,” says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, noting the return of a viable passenger rail service is a “key piece” for the North.

He stresses, however, that a “viable plan” is required, noting the Ontario Northland Railway’s former Northlander passenger train is gone. “The Northlander was stripped by the Liberal government,” says Fedeli, suggesting the cars are no longer available and that a new train service be built from the ground up using Northern rail experts.

The provincial Tories have oft been criticized for advocating on issues related to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) because of a proposal by the Mike Harris government to cancel the Northlander and a subsequent proposal to privatize other divisions of the Crown agency. Continue Reading →

Romano visits Ring of Fire – by Elaine Della-Mattia (Sault Star – October 5, 2017)

As Sault MPP Ross Romano is headed to the far north to visit the Ring of Fire area and meet with First Nation communities, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. is keeping its line of communication open Noront Resources.

Romano left Thursday for the far north and is expected to return home Oct. 15. His plan, which he had talked about during the provincial byelection campaign, was to visit the region, tour the area and learn more about issues facing First Nation communities in the area.

His goals are to tour the area to get a full appreciation of the challenges the provincial government faces to develop the road and how to properly address the relationship with Indigenous communities. Continue Reading →

Could more autonomy hurt the north? One expert says yes – by Frank Giorno (Timmins Today – September 28, 2017)

“For example, Manitoba established a university in its north in the 19th
Century, but in Ontario it took until the 1960s to start up a Northern
university. The decision was made in Queen’s Park,” said Robinson. “Queen’s
Park is keeping the University of Toronto’s mining school when it could be
more successful in northern Ontario.”

Robinson spoke about the success of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and
Services Association (SAMSSA) in promoting northern Ontario mining and
how Queen’s Park disagreed with its development.

TIMMINS — Striving for greater autonomy for northern Ontario comes with risk, says an expert who spoke at a conference on the state of the region. Devolved jurisdictions like Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland have not succeeded as proponents expected, said David MacKinnon, a former senior civil servant with the Ontario government’s Ministry of Finance who has also worked in Nova Scotia.

“The question to ask is whether devolution of power will lead to improved governance, or perhaps the opposite,” MacKinnon told conference-goers at a two-day conference held in Timmins by the Northern Policy Insitutute. “Devolution does have serious risks in my view.” Continue Reading →

Move more civil service jobs out of Toronto – it worked in Peterborough – by Rosemary Ganley (Peterborough Examiner – August 31, 2017)

Coming back from a Northern Ontario Business conference one day in 1986, Premier David Peterson asked his fellow passengers, including me, in the government aircraft: “Is there anything tangible that we can do to help northern and other regional communities that are suffering economically?”

I was at the time deputy minister of Northern Development and Mines and I said, “We could help them by transferring a lot of government jobs out of Toronto, which is booming, and into places that need them.” This prompted a series of meetings with him and senior Queen’s Park staff, the result of which was a decision to proceed with a number of transfers, including my ministry (to Sudbury).

Two years later I had moved to the Ministry of Natural Resources. I was informed that the MNR head office was also to be transferred and we should decide quickly on our preferred destination. The following day, my executives and I selected Peterborough and our recommendation went to the Premier and cabinet. Continue Reading →

Should Ontario Northland be the railroader for the Ring of Fire? – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – September 6, 2017)

Regional railway says it has the smarts, capability to serve James Bay mining camp

The Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) is ready to be a logistical player in the Ring of Fire, if and when an ore haul railroad is required.

Now that Queen’s Park has unveiled a road-building timetable to reach the Far North mineral deposits, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission president-CEO Corina Moore said the North Bay-headquartered Crown railroader has the ability to do the job.

“Ontario Northland remains interested in providing input on how we can provide rail support in the future with regards to the Ring of Fire,” said Moore in an email. She was responding to comments made by Noront Resources president-CEO Alan Coutts, who hinted that the ONR could serve as the exclusive railroader to the Ring.

“When the Ring of Fire chromite market grows to a level requiring rail, Ontario Northland has the experience, technology, and capabilities to safely operate and maintain the rail infrastructure,” replied Moore. Continue Reading →

Battle for Northern Ontario raging 9 months before provincial election – by Robert Benzie (Toronto Star – August 26, 2017)

The next provincial election is more than nine months away, but the battle for Northern Ontario is already raging. Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, making his 27th trip to the region since taking his party’s helm in May 2015, gathered his caucus in Timmins this week to underscore that “the North matters.”

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne spent most of the week visiting remote parts of Northern Ontario, including First Nations, to tout her government’s latest efforts to kick-start the stalled Ring of Fire chromite mining project. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party holds most of the seats there, has also kept the north on the front-burner in this final summer before the election, which will be June 7.

“Let’s face it: Northern Ontario has been ignored by the Wynne Liberals for far too long,” Brown, whose party leads the Liberals in most public-opinion surveys, told his caucus mates Friday. “They have left hardworking Northern Ontario families paying more and getting less,” he said, speaking from a podium emblazoned with a sign reading “A Voice for the North.” Continue Reading →