Make Northern Ontario a separate province: online petition
Northerners tired of being ignored by politicians in Toronto, Trevor Holliday says
Some northern Ontarians have had enough of dealing with the bigwigs in Toronto and are calling on the region to support forming their own province with an online petition.
From travelling long distances to see a doctor to feeling underrepresented in Queen's Park, Trevor Holliday of North Bay, Ont., said the frustration led him to create the movement and push the idea forward.
So far, the petition he started has more than 2,500 supporters as northerners seek more resources, especially in health care. The idea of separation isn't new. This sentiment has been expressed by a variety of northerners over the decades and actually dates back to the 1970s.
"Why can't more be done in the north? Why does everybody have to travel to the south? Yes, there's specialized doctors. Why can't we have one centralized in northern Ontario?" Holliday asked.
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"I hear many different stories of indigenous people having to take several modes of transportation just to see a doctor, just to get bottled water, milk — which is becoming a hardship on them and their families, as well."
What is the right place for northern Ontario within Ontario? There doesn't seem to be an interest from the government to have this discussion.- Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas
Nipissing University political science professor David Tabachnick said there's reason for people to feel frustrated along with explanations for why things are the way they are in Ontario.
"The population density is so much greater in southern Ontario," Tabachnick said. "They have so much more of a larger political voice at Queen's Park. Our concerns aren't necessarily shut out. It's a bit of an imbalance in our democracy."
The political scientist said while the "entrepreneurial spirit" in the north is plentiful and the area is "very rich" in resources, "it is possible to imagine a separate province, but the likelihood of that happening seems pretty limited to me."
'Government supports 1 Ontario'
Northern politicians responded by saying they are proud to be from the north and from Ontario and have no desire to support separation.
"We have a strong government at Queen's Park that is focusing on issues and projects important to all residents of Ontario," said Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault in a statement.
"I want to be very clear; our government supports one Ontario and we continue to respect that northern Ontario is a unique and important part of the province," said Thunder Bay–Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle in a statement, who serves as the provincial Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
There are special programs in place for northerners, including the Northern Health Travel Grants that cover costs for long-distance hospital trips. However, some say that program proves Northern Ontario is "not being treated fairly."
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas told CBC News she understands why northerners feel alienated.
"What is the right place for northern Ontario within Ontario? There doesn't seem to be an interest from the government to have this discussion," the New Democrat politician said.
Gelinas noted that while she does not support the idea, she wants the Ontario government to pay more attention to the issues that matter to northerners.