Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford says the 2023 budget introduced last week by his party will help his constituents.
The budget entitled Building a Strong Ontario, was introduced last Thursday by Finance Minister Peter Bethenfalvey and the Progressive Conservative Government of Premier Doug Ford. It is the biggest budget ever introduced by the Government of Ontario with 204.7 billion dollars.
Rickford says that the budget will bring the province out of the COVID-19 pandemic and help the economy to grow from a period of recession induced by the pandemic.
“Overall highlights are investing in hospitals, investing in schools, investing in highways and other major infrastructure projects, focusing on protecting our competitiveness with health human resources, specifically doctors and nurses,” Rickford said.
He also praised his government’s direction of funding towards homelessness, mental health and addiction treatment which comes in at around half a billion dollars.
Mining will see nearly $1billion dollars in the Ring of Fire region for infrastructure to aid the development of mining operations there. There are also funds earmarked for specific projects in southern Ontario like highways around Toronto.
Although there were no announcements specific to Kenora-Rainy River, Rickford says many of the funding announcements in the budget will benefit the entire province. The north in particular could see the benefit from funds directed towards mining exploration. With successful mining operations already in the region, funding further exploration could bring more jobs to the area.
“We have a well-known gold deposit and there are potentially others,” Rickford said. “There are some nickel and lithium exploration activities going on in Kenora-Rainy River.”
Rickford also referred to funding directed towards hospital infrastructure investment which may eventually touch the area.
“We have a $48 billion investment in hospital infrastructure over the next 10 years,” Rickford said. “In priority sequence, we’re looking at a number of healthcare assets over the next few years in the Kenora-Rainy River area that will require various degrees of upgrading or rehabilitation.”
Another measure that Rickford sees as benefitting his riding is the funding of a veterinary school at Lakehead University.
Rickford says he has heard from several local constituents regarding the need for large-animal vets in the area.
“This is a massive agriculture push that both (MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan) Kevin Holland and I made in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the University of Guelph, and Lakehead University,” Rickford said.
He mentioned hearing from Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association President Murray McDonald and Vice President Jeff Pollard. Rickford said both told him they thought this was an important step towards having more veterinarians in the region which will benefit many of the local agricultural operations.
Among many other measures in the budget Rickford also referred to the Northern Ontario Heritage fund, which grants funding across the north to communities and groups looking to promote and stimulate economic initiatives in the area. That fund will have an additional $100 million to disperse over the coming year.