By Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry
Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure
Important steps are being taken as we work to finalize the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.
Since the proposed plan was released last October, it has generated close to 300 submissions from individuals, municipalities, educational institutions, industry and community organizations across Northern Ontario. More than 1,400 northerners participated in 10 public information sessions, and more than 40 videoconferences, meetings and workshops. Many groups organized special meetings to bring together communities and individuals from across sectors to discuss their input.
As part of our government’s efforts to consult with Aboriginal peoples, 10 regional workshops were held and more than 260 people from First Nations, Métis and Aboriginal organizations reviewed the proposed plan and provided input. We also met with more than 130 northern youth including high school, college and university students, and young professionals building their careers in the North.
The response and interest from northerners has been unprecedented. We thank you for your contributions and the insights that you have shared. Our two ministries are now working with 15 other provincial ministries to reflect the feedback and ideas from northerners in the development of a final plan and its implementation.
This final plan expected to be released by the end of the year will be a strategic plan that guides decision-making and investment planning over the next 25 years. It will focus decisions to build a regional economy that is resilient and sustainable, gives northerners more education and career choices, and attracts new people and investments.
Our Open Ontario plan provides strong indications on how our government will support the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario over its first five years. Open Ontario initiatives and investments will help set the foundation for the Growth Plan’s long-term, 25-year approach. It includes:
*Investing $45 million for a new training program to help Aboriginal peoples and Northern Ontarians participate in and benefit from emerging economic development opportunities.
*Establishing a Ring of Fire Coordinator to encourage responsible and sustainable economic development in this area.
*Supporting northern forestry, mining and other industry through a three-year Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program.
*Partnering with Sudbury and Thunder Bay to establish pilot economic development planning areas.
*Putting in place the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers to help unemployed older workers.
*Increasing postsecondary attainment rates by adding new spaces to Northern colleges and universities.
This is just the start. We look forward to finalizing the Growth Plan this year to build a strong, prosperous North. We know the plan will be ambitious. It will take time to achieve and will take the collective efforts of us all.
Visit our Places to Grow website for news and updates on this important initiative.