A crowd of about 40 protesters gathered in front of Sudbury hotel yesterday, backed by the sound of honking cars driving by, while Premier Kathleen Wynne fielded questions from the city's Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon.
Outside, the protesters stood with flags and signs, hoping to raise awareness of issues such as the privatization of public groups and poor conditions for Ontario workers.
Inside, the premier was peppered with questions about Ontario's Changing Workplaces Review, U.S. trade relations, the promotion of immigration to northern towns and the Ring of Fire.
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Kevin Jarus, who works for Tulloch Engineering in Sudbury, pushed the premier to offer some kind of firm commitment from the province on the Ring of Fire.
"Will this government commit to getting this project off the ground and shovels off the ground prior to the 2018 election?," Jarus asked.
Wynne told the Jarus and the crowd that her government is working hard on the issue.
"What I've said to the Matawa First Nations now is that we need to come to a consensus because we need to get infrastructure built," Wynne said.
"If there can't be a consensus at this point, then we need to start working with communities that want to work with us and get some of that building begun."
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Wynne also answered the Chamber's questions about the workplaces review, released earlier in the week.
The report proposes amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, touching on things such as reform to collective bargaining and fair wages for part-time and casual workers.
Alyson Laking, with the Laking group of companies, said she's concerned the review only focuses on vulnerable workers, who she believes aren't the majority in Ontario.
"Government has identified that vulnerable workers are the workers they're trying to protect," Laking said.
"I'm not sure they're in every sector in every business in Ontario. To do a dramatic change across the board could be detrimental and have negative economic impact on our province."
Wynne said her government will respond to the review in the coming days, but doesn't believe all 173 recommendations will be put to action.
The premier will continue her visit to northern Ontario today in Kirkland Lake and Timmins.