Northern communities won't get cut of mining, forestry tax until 2020: minister

Minister for Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford says northern Ontario communities won't get a cut of resource revenue until at least next year.

Progressive Conservatives promised between $20-30 million per year for northern cities, towns, First Nations

Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development, Mines and Indigenous Affairs, says a resource revenue sharing system for northern Ontario likely won't be in place until 2020 at the earliest. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The Minister for Northern Development and Mines says northern Ontario communities won't get a cut of resource revenue until next year, at the earliest.

Greg Rickford, who is also the Minister of Energy and Indigenous Affairs, made the comments in an interview with CBC News during a visit to Sudbury on Wednesday.

He says details won't likely be released until 2020 and possibly not until that year's fall economic statement.

"These aren't set up in haste. They've got to be done right," Rickford says. 

"We want a model that will serve all communities, but importantly deliver on a promise to ensure that northern communities, both municipalities and Indigenous communities, not currently covered under a resource revenue sharing agreement, start to capture resources from what we contribute to the Ontario economy."

During the 2018 election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives promised to give a share of tax revenue from mines, forestry, aggregates and possibly other resources to northern municipalities and First Nations, which Premier Doug Ford estimated to be worth between $20 and $30 million a year.

"Communities want this focussed on...things that create jobs and create opportunity, deal with the wear and tear on our roads for example, that being in the resource industry by consequence has impact on. So these are some of the ideas that are starting to come to the surface," Rickford says.

Indigenous revenue sharing

The previous Liberal government reached a revenue sharing agreement in May 2018 with First Nations represented by Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council and Mushkegowuk Council.

It will see Ontario share 45 per cent of annual revenue from forestry stumpage with the First Nations, 40 per cent of the annual mining tax and royalties from existing mines, and 45 per cent from future mines in their territories.

First Nations are expecting to receive their first payments under that agreement later this year.

Asked how that agreement and possibly others with specific Indigenous groups might fit into the larger provincial sharing framework, Rickford says the process is working well and he didn't want to "plague it with any uncertainty or speculation."

Many Indigenous leaders see the recent court decision on the Robinson-Huron Treaty — finding that it requires a larger sharing of resources between First Nations and the provincial and federal governments — as a big step towards a new financial relationship.

The Ontario government recently decided to appeal that decision, which Rickford declined to comment on directly, saying only that he wants to take "every opportunity to evaluate this and make sure we're doing the right thing."

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