The government has created a Cabinet Committee on Northern Ontario to address the unique economic challenges facing northern Ontario. The challenges include job creation, revitalizing transportation infrastructure and improving vital access to the Ring of Fire.
The government is moving forward on the planned extension of the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program, which assists northern Ontario's largest industrial electricity consumers — and key economic contributors — to reduce energy costs for large users, supporting their employees, families and communities and maintaining global competitiveness.
The program was first announced in March 2010 for a three-year period and the Province is extending the NIER program by investing an additional $360 million over three years — starting in 2013–14.
- The NIER program has created or protected almost 16,000 jobs at 24 forestry, steel and mining-related facilities in northern communities since it was launched in 2010. Its three-year extension will continue to support growth and development in northern resource sectors such as forestry and mining.
- This program continues to be a significant government action to respond to unprecedented challenges faced by the forestry industry during the global recession and its after-effects.
Strong Northern Communities
The government is working with communities and key industries in northern Ontario to help create a stronger, more diverse and sustainable northern economy.
- The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) is working to build strong, prosperous northern communities through seven programs that encourage businesses to develop new technologies, stimulate entrepreneurship and invest in a young skilled workforce across northern Ontario.
- The government is investing $360 million over the next three years through the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program to continue assisting northern Ontario's largest industrial electricity consumers and key economic contributors.
- The Ontario Power Authority's Industrial Electricity Incentive (IEI) program offers a reduced electricity rate on new and expanded production to better manage load. The program will create jobs and bring investment across the province, including northern Ontario.
- The government is making significant infrastructure investments to strengthen northern communities. For example, it is building a new Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse, expected to be completed this fall, and upgrading Atikokan General Hospital.
- In 2013, the Province is providing northern municipalities with $339 million in support through the combined benefit of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) and provincial uploads, an increase of $86 million over the previous program.
- Government support for northern school boards in 2013–14 will total nearly $1.5 billion — a 72 per cent increase in per-pupil funding over the 2002–03 level.
- The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has graduated a total of 220 new doctors since the spring of 2009. Nine Nurse Practitioner Clinics have been announced and 42 Family Health Teams created.
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire, an area with deposits of chromite and other minerals, is important in the immediate and long-term future of northern Ontario's economy. The government is working with industry and First Nation communities to explore and develop mineral extraction opportunities in the Ring of Fire area in an environmentally sustainable way.
The government is committed to helping First Nation communities benefit from extracting minerals in the Ring of Fire area through resource revenue sharing. To ensure that these communities are involved in the development process, the government is also providing enhanced funding to First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire area and actively working with them towards signed memoranda of understanding.
Aboriginal Peoples in Ontario
More than 240,000 people in Ontario identify as Aboriginal — First Nation, Métis or Inuit. Nearly 21 per cent of Aboriginal peoples in Canada live in Ontario, more than in any other province.*
The Ontario government is strengthening cooperative relationships with Aboriginal peoples, which will improve their opportunities for economic and social development.
- Since 2008, the New Relationship Fund has invested more than $77 million in over 520 economic development projects involving First Nations, Métis communities and Aboriginal organizations. These projects have created more than 540 jobs and funded skills training for over 4,300 Aboriginal people.
- The Aboriginal Business Directory, launched in 2010, is an online database of Aboriginal businesses in Ontario, to help them promote their products and services to potential customers and non-Aboriginal partners.
- A preliminary draft Agreement-in-Principle for the Algonquin Land Claim was released in December 2012 for public review. The negotiation teams for the Algonquins of Ontario, Canada and Ontario organized public information sessions in March 2013.
Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program
The Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program (ALGP) continues to facilitate opportunities for Aboriginal participation in the energy sector. The government looks forward to continuing to work with Aboriginal communities to create jobs and support investment for those communities, and to create benefits for the people of this province.
To date, two loan guarantees have been approved under the ALGP, with the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Project in operation and construction underway on the Lower Mattagami Project.
Supporting Regional Development
In 2011–12, the government increased annual funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to $100 million and maintained this level of funding in 2012–13 to support job creation and strengthen the economies of northern communities.
- Since October 2003, more than 21,500 jobs were created or protected in the north as a result of 5,312 projects to which the NOHFC committed more than $824 million. These investments have leveraged another $3 billion from other contributors.
In October 2012, the government launched a permanent Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF). It also replenished and made permanent the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF).
- Since October 2012, the government has committed $15 million through the SWODF, leveraging a total investment of nearly $120 million and helping create and protect 2,200 jobs.
- Since 2008, the government has committed more than $60.6 million through the EODF, leveraging a total investment of nearly $591 million. These investments are helping create and protect 14,100 jobs in eastern Ontario.