Affordable PC Plan will Respect and Empower Northern Municipalities, Families and Businesses
Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford today addressed the annual meeting of the Northwestern Ontario Municipalities Association (NOMA) during which he shared how his Plan for the People of Ontario will deliver real respect, real change and real hope for the people of Northern Ontario.
“I know that Northern municipalities, families and businesses feel like they are being taken for granted,” said Ford. “Things are getting more expensive, life is getting harder and harder and it’s getting tougher to get by. People are looking for change — but they are not just looking for any change — they are also looking for help and they are looking for hope. My message to them is that help is on the way.”
Ford shared additional details from his plan that will make life more affordable for Northern Ontario families while ensuring that Northern communities are treated with respect. These commitments include:
- Developing Northern Resources, including the Ring of Fire.
- Moving forward with resource revenue sharing from mining, forestry and aggregates to help Northern towns and Indigenous communities share in resource development
- Ensuring hunting and fishing revenues go toward their stated purpose of conservation
- Cutting the aviation fuel tax for the North to reduce the cost of living in the North and,
- Bringing back passenger rail service to the North
“Unlike Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals, our plan is both reasonable and responsible,” said Ford. “And most importantly, our plan is honest. We’re going to respect you and we’re going to work with you. On June 8th, I look forward to joining a team of dedicated and talented Northern Ontario MPPs to deliver the kind of change that the people of Northern Ontario deserve.”
Backgrounder – Northern Plan
Developing Northern Resources, including the Ring of Fire:
- Mining represents a major economic opportunity for Northern Ontario and the province. The Ring of Fire project is a great example.
- The Ring of Fire holds over $60 billion worth of mineral deposits,1will create roughly 5,500 jobs, and contribute almost $2 billion annually to government revenues.2
- Yet, the Ontario Liberal government has put up roadblock after roadblock to obstruct these projects and the opportunities associated with them. The result is fewer jobs, less economic activity, and a missed opportunity for the region and our province.
How We Will Fix It:
- A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will build the roads to the Ring of Fire.
- A Doug Ford led-Ontario PCs will unlock the billions in investment and jobs that the Ring of Fire project can bring to Northern Ontario. The Ontario PCs will ensure the Ring of Fire roads get built.
Resource Revenue Sharing:
- When new mining, forestry and aggregate developments are proposed, local communities and indigenous groups may be reluctant to support them without knowing how they would share in the benefits of the development.
- It is in the interest of both the project proponents and local communities that the provincial government plays a role in sharing resource revenue with these host municipalities and indigenous communities.
- The Liberals have been discussing a revenue sharing arrangement since 2007, but a final arrangement was never put in place.3It has been all talk by the Liberals and little action.
- In August 2015, Kathleen Wynne signed a political accord with the Chiefs of Ontario, in which she promised to work with these Indigenous leaders on a range of issues including resource benefits sharing and jurisdictional matters. But no agreement was ever implemented.
How We Will Fix It:
- A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will establish resource revenue sharing from mining, forestry and aggregates to help Northern and Indigenous communities share in the benefits of resource development.
- Accordingly, a Doug Ford Government will direct the province to take a portion of provincial revenues collected from aggregate licenses, stumpage fees and the mining tax. This revenue will go to the local, host Northern and Indigenous communities. We anticipate $20-$30 million in annual revenue, with revenue growth as more projects come online.
- Taxes and fee rates will not increase to account for this policy of resource revenue sharing.
- By implementing resource sharing programs with the local, host municipalities or Indigenous groups, an Ontario PC government will ensure that the communities impacted will experience a direct financial benefit –on top of the employment benefits – from these projects, helping fund needed services, projects, and other community improvements.
Ensuring hunting and fishing revenues go toward conservation:
- Ontario hunters and anglers are pleased to pay their licensing fees to support wildlife conservation efforts. They understand better than anyone the importance of careful stewardship of our natural habitats and wildlife.
- But, the Liberals have turned hunting and fishing licenses into a cash grab. The Liberals have irresponsibly used this money on everything from hotels to dentist appointments, rather than its intended purpose: conservation efforts.4
- At the same time, a lack of proper conservation funding has led to declining moose populations, understocking of fish, and various other issues with hunting and fishing. This is unacceptable.
How We Will Fix It:
- A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will ensure all hunting and fishing license fees are spent on wildlife conservation, and not used for the Liberals’ personal expenditures.
- Under and Ontario PC Government, this money will be used for its intended purpose.
Cutting the Aviation fuel tax for the North:
- Few Liberal policies have been more detrimental to Northern Ontario than the government’s 148 percent hike to the Aviation Fuel Tax.
- Raising the fuel tax has made life harder and more expensive for Northern and remote fly-in communities that rely on airplanes to get everyday items to their communities.
- For many Northern communities, airports represent the only reliable, year-round mode of transportation, with air cargo being a vital link for food, fuel, and supplies, as well as medical transportation and evacuation.
- Under the Wynne Liberals, communities in Northern Ontario have endured a higher cost of living, as basic necessities have gone up in price as a result of this irresponsible tax hike.
How We Will Fix It:
- A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will reverse the 148 percent increase to the aviation fuel tax for all Northern airports.
- This will return the aviation fuel tax to its original 2.7 cents per litre for identified Northern airports, and will cost the Government roughly $11 million annually. However, this will provide much-needed help to Northern communities.
- For example, airports in smaller Northern communities can use relief from this tax to help reduce the cost of everyday goods.
- Airports in larger communities, such as Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and North Bay can use relief from this tax to help attract new business development and connect Northern Ontario residents to the South –especially since the cancellation of full passenger rail service to the North.
Bringing back full passenger rail service to the North:
- Transit services in Northern Ontario have continually been made more expensive or cut altogether by the Liberals.
- For instance, under the Liberals, in 2012 the last Ontario Northland passenger train (the Northlander) left Union Station for Cochrane.5
- The Northlander was the main passenger train service connecting Northern Ontario to Toronto, running from Toronto through North Bay to Cochrane with stops in between.
- Northerners were rightfully furious with the decision to cancel the train service and feared job losses, as well as the end of a relatively quick transportation option to and from Toronto for medical and other needs.
How We Will Fix It:
- The Ontario PCs will bring back full passenger rail service to the North.
- First, that means completing an environmental assessment of what equipment needs to be purchased and what upgrades need to be made to restore the service.
- Second, annual funding must be provided to make the train a reality. The Ontario PCs have budgeted $45 million for annual operating costs.
1 Robert Benzie, “Road to Ring of Fire mining development gets green light,” TorontoStar, August 21, 2017, https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/08/21/road-to-ringof-fire-mining-development-gets-green-light.html.
2 Ontario Chamber of Commerce, “Ring of Fire,” http://www.occ.ca/issue/ring-of-fire/.
4 John Miner, “Southwestern Ontario group questions spending by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry,” London Free Press, October 2, 2016, http://www.lfpress.com/2016/10/01/southwestern-ontario-group-questions-spending-by-ministry-of-natural-resources-and-forestry.
5 Rob Ferguson, “Ontario Northlander train to make its last run Sept. 28,” Toronto Star, August 16, 2012, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/08/16/ontario_northlander_train_to_make_its_last_run_sept_28.html.