Andrea Horwath addressed delegates at the Federation Of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference Thursday, telling delegates she believes that investment in the north is critical to the success and prosperity of the province.
“Northern Ontario deserves real investment, a real future, and a government that’s actually working with you to make life better for everyone who lives here,” said Horwath. “I know that when we invest in the north, the whole province benefits.
“That’s why Premier Wynne’s budget was so frustrating. It does absolutely nothing to fix the damage that the Liberal government has done to northern communities.”
Horwath has made a number of concrete commitments that would strengthen the northern economy, and make life better for northern families and businesses. Her proposal on hydro would cut all hydro bills by up to 30 per cent, and remove punitive rural and northern delivery charges. Horwath has also declared she’d stop the cuts to northern hospitals, protect local schools and get the trains to northern Ontario running again, reconnecting towns and people isolated by Wynne’s decision to shut down the Northlander and cut the ONTC.
In contrast to Horwath’s commitments, Wynne’s budget includes no recognition of how important transportation services are to northerners, and fails to mention of the Northlander or the ONTC. Wynne’s 2017-18 budget and plan also fails to make any mention whatsoever of the Ring of Fire.
That massive chromite deposit, if unlocked, could create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity for northern communities and First Nations.
“Not one dime in Wynne’s budget is committed to the Ring of Fire,” said Horwath. “Failing to even mention a project with such massive potential – to create jobs, to grow the economy and to deliver prosperity for workers and their families – I think that’s wrong. To overlook the vast potential of the north is wrong.”
Horwath was also critical of Wynne’s continuing cuts to northern hospitals, like the hospital in North Bay that’s seen over 350 nurses and health care workers cut in the past few years. There’s also no plan in the budget to stop school closures. Wynne has 300 more schools on the chopping block – and her policies mean northern schools are disproportionately at risk of closure.
“We can’t afford to let Premier Wynne do any more damage,” said Horwath. “It’s time for the north to have a partner at Queen’s Park – a partner that recognizes that the province has to meet its obligations, and one that recognizes the value of investing in northern Ontario.”