Budget promises infrastructure, training funding for Northeastern Ontario

The Ontario government revealed its $133.9 billion spending plan on Thursday. What's in it for northern Ontario? There were 29 mentions of the northern part of the province in the 408 page budget document. Here are some of the highlights for northeastern Ontario.

New money for airports, roads and bridges, but cuts to MNR and Northern Development

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, right, delivers the Ontario 2016 budget next to Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is the PC Finance Critic. He joined us with some reaction to the recent Ontario budget. 7:15

The Ontario government revealed its $133.9 billion spending plan on Thursday.

What's in it for northern Ontario?

There were 29 mentions of the northern part of the province in the 408 page budget document.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Province to make infrastructure investment of more than $137 billion over next 10 years, which is a more than $3 billion increase over what was announced in the fall fiscal review. No indication as to how much of this might be spent in the north, but the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund will increase to $300 million per year by 2018/2019 to "support projects in small, rural and northern communities."
  • Both the province and the feds will provide $272 million each for the Small Communities Fund to support infrastructure projects in communities of less than 100,000 people.
  • On the list of projected savings to meet a target of trimming the cost of running the province by $500 million, is "modernizing the delivery of programs in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, saving $19 million." But a spokesperson with the MNRF says those savings were already realized in previous years.
  • "Capital improvements to northern airports to support remote and Indigenous communities and promote economic development" — but no other details given. 
  • Increased funding, beginning in 2018-19, for capital improvements to roads and bridges in First Nation communities.
  • The province will introduce a loan program to help small communities get better access to natural gas in 2016.
  • $1 billion for Ring of Fire infrastructure programs. Both NDP and Tories said they were very disappointed the budget had no new investment in the Ring of Fire
  • The Wahgoshig First Nation received $247,341 for a training initiative delivered in partnership with Northern College and Primero Mining Corporation. Twelve students will receive training to obtain the skills necessary to work in the mining industry.
  • City of Temiskaming Shores will get about $1.5 million to integrate two water systems into one supply source and build a treatment facility.
  • Envirotek Sealing and Fiberglassing Inc., located in Sault Ste. Marie, has received a $1 million grant for a $2-million facility expansion for its line of HVAC products and custom design metal products. This project is creating seven new jobs.
  • The budget pledges to "invest in upgrades to the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry and river dredging for MV Niska 1 navigation routes in the Moosonee area," but no dollar figure was included.
  • In the City of Timmins — which has been fighting with the province over funding to fix up Highway 101, which becomes the city's main drag, Algonquin Boulevard — the Connecting Links program will provide $20M in 2016-2017. That's up from $15 million announced in last year's budget, "to help municipalities pay the construction and repair costs for municipal roads that connect two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing." Funding will increase to $30 million per year by 2018/2019.

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