The province is considering moving the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) portfolio.
It currently falls under the purview of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (MENDM).
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli was in North Bay on Nov. 12 to announce the government would study the feasibility of the move. He was joined by ONTC president-CEO Corina Moore and Andy Mitchell, president of Unifor Local 103.
“Northeastern Ontario has been united with one voice on the importance of Ontario Northland and where we all feel it needs to go next,” Fedeli said in a news release. “Our government has listened.”
Fedeli said by moving the ONTC into the transportation portfolio along with other transportation services, the government would “create opportunities to improve services.”
The Nipissing MPP said the province would additionally look at “enhanc(ing)” the ONTC’s intercommunity bus services.
This news comes after the ONTC, citing low ridership and funding cuts, announced it would cease bus service between Manitoulin Island and Sudbury as of Nov. 15. The service has been running for less than two years.
Yet, Fedeli said aligning the ONTC with the transportation ministry would be good for the ONTC and the North.
“We are taking the steps necessary to ensure Ontario Northland remains an important driver for economic development, that it will keep people and goods moving in the North, and that Ontario Northland will help make the North open for business and open for jobs now and in the future,” he said.
Moore echoed those sentiments.
“This model ensures more effective collaboration between the two provincial transportation agencies and will continue to create opportunities to improve seamless transportation services for our rail and bus passengers,” she said in the release.
“We are excited to implement expanded services to ensure improved transportation options across Northern Ontario.”
Mitchell said the union has been lobbying for the integration of the ONTC into the transportation ministry for some time.
“We have great synergies with Metrolinx, and reporting to the same ministry will only enhance transportation services across the province,” he said. “We’re pleased that the government is listening and hope for a seamless and timely transition.”