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Budget commitments for northern Ontario

By Randy Thoms Mar 24, 2023 | 11:51 AM

Northern Ontario features prominently in the provincial budget.

One chapter is entitled ‘Unlocking Northern Ontario’s Economic Potential.’

Accessing the Ring of Fire mining deposit is at the forefront.

“The Ring of Fire is one of the most promising mineral deposits in Canada. It has the potential to play an important role in supporting innovative technologies for high-growth sectors such as batteries, electronics, electric vehicles and cleantech and to bring multigenerational opportunities to Northern and First Nation communities,” states the budget document.

The province says it will continue working with First Nations on a road to the region.

The Terms of Reference for the provincial Environmental Assessments for the Marten Falls Community Access Road and the Webequie Supply Road were approved in 2021. and for the Northern Road Link this month.

The province says it will also continue to lobby for federal funds to match its one billion dollar commitment.

Junior mining companies will receive additional support in the search for critical minerals elsewhere in the province.

An additional three million dollars this year and three million next will be available through the Ontario Junior Exploration Program.

The Winter Roads program is getting an extra five million dollars.

The program allows for the construction of winter roads to connect Far North communities to the provincial highway system.

There are promises to improve broadband services in northern Ontario that includes $10.9 million to improve internet access in several towns and First Nations communities.

A new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program will be developed through the University of Guelph and Lakehead University starting in 2024-25 to address the shortage of veterinarians in remote and northern communities.

The province is allocating $14.7 million over two years to the program which allows for an increase in the enrolment of twenty students each year over the next four years.

There is also $900,000 to be provided over three years toward a new Veterinary Incentive Program, providing student loan assistance to up to 30 graduates who commit to working in underserviced areas.

The two key ministries to northern Ontario will get a funding boost.

The Ministry of Northern Development will see its budget increase from $612 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year to $725.3 million over the next year.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s budget will get a bump up from $612 million this fiscal year to $688 million next.

The emergency firefighting fund increases from $100 million to $135 million.



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