Province still committed to $1 billion for Ring of Fire, minister says

Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Bill Mauro says Ontario remains committed to spending $1 billion on infrastructure in Ring of Fire mineral development area.
Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Bill Mauro, right, said funding for his ministry was not cut in the current provincial budget. Last year's budget was higher due to one-time funding for abandoned mine sites, he said. Mauro is pictured here with energy minister Glenn Thibeault and Rexall Pharmacy manager Janet McCutchon at a news conference in Thunder Bay, Ont., April 28. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Ontario's Minister of Northern Development and Mines says the province is still committed to the Ring of Fire mineral development area  — even though it's not mentioned in this year's budget.

The government hasn't backed away from its pledge of $1 billion in infrastructure spending to support mining in the mineral-rich region in the James Bay Lowlands, Bill Mauro said.  

The province first made the promise in 2014.

Members of the opposition have questioned whether it's absence in this week's budget means now backing down from its commitment.

"I would suggest that those that are putting that criticism forward are headline-grabbing," Mauro said. 

Mauro also countered opposition concerns that the government had cut the budget of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

The Ministry received one-time supplementary funding last year to deal with abandoned mine sites, he said.

Asked about a lack of funding in the budget for improvements to the Thunder Bay jail, Mauro told CBC the province is waiting for a report from its Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform before making any announcements.