Some northern Ontario MPs 'not seeing the substance' in 2017 federal budget

The federal government is giving the innovation sector a big boost in its latest budget, but it unclear to some how the new commitment will help northern Ontario's economy.

Budget includes $25M increase for FedNor over 5 years

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold copies of the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government is giving the innovation sector a big boost in its latest budget, but it unclear to some how the new commitment will help northern Ontario's economy. 

"I'm feeling like there's a lot of buzz words, but I'm not seeing the substance," Timmins-James Bay NDP MP Charlie Angus said.

"It's hard to say whether or not this budget is a budget that's actually going to make change or it really is just a hangover budget of making big promises for something down the road."
NDP MP Charlie Angus wonders how the 2017 federal budget will make a difference for Canadians. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Approximately $950 million is being allocated over five years towards innovators, and the creation of hubs known as super clusters.

The investment is a good idea in principle, according to Laurentian University economist and former Sudbury, Ont., federal Green party candidate David Robinson. 

'How they're going to do it? Who knows?'

But without a detailed plan, Robinson said it is hard to say how the money will impact the north. 

"How they're going to do it? Who knows," Robinson said.

"It's another example of having a good intention, and not very much specific to say about it."
NDP MP Carol Hughes is concerned when the federal government's new money for innovation will reach people in northern Ontario. (CBC)

Carol Hughes, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing NDP MP, is concerned the money will not trickle down fast enough to help her constituents.

"Some of it may start next year," Hughes said. "Some of it will only flow after the next election or the election after that."

More jobs to be created in northern Ontario 'fairly soon'

But at least one regional organization could benefit from the federal budget soon.

Ottawa is pledging a $25 million increase in funding for FedNor from $41 million to $66 million. 
Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre is touting his government's 2017 federal budget will help northern Ontario's economy. (Paul Lefebvre)

Although he does not have a precise timeline, Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre insists his government's new spending will increase the number of jobs in the north "fairly soon."

"This is great for municipalities. This is great for economic development," Lefebvre said. 

"I truly believe that the economy is starting to turn around in northern Ontario."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Senior reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: