Ontario has released a proposed “Growth Plan for Northern Ontario” designed to set the region’s economy on a strong, globally-competitive footing.
Over the next couple of months, Northern Ontario residents, youths, aboriginal peoples, community leaders, business, industry, and other experts will have the opportunity to help chart the future of the region by commenting on the actions recommended in the proposed plan.
The plan can be viewed at www.placestogrow.ca
The north’s population will stabilize in the next 25 years. As such, the proposed “Growth Plan” brings together the building blocks needed to prepare the region for shifts in the economy by growing northern opportunities, strengthening its workforce, and enhancing northerners’ quality of life.
The 25-year plan proposes policies, programs, and actions, and calls on governments and their northern partners to realize a shared vision.
Key actions include:
•maximizing the economic benefit of increased mineral exploration and production, and strengthening the mineral industry cluster;
•strengthening partnerships among colleges, universities, and industry to support research, and to educate and train northerners for careers in growing fields;
•building a new relationship with aboriginal people to increase participation in the future economic growth of Northern Ontario and achieve better health status for aboriginal communities;
•developing complete networks to support stronger communities such as an inter-regional transportation network, enhanced broadband service, and a broader transmission network to increase capacity for renewable energy development;
•creating regional economic zones to help communities plan collaboratively for their economic, labour market, infrastructure, land-use, cultural, and population needs; and
•encouraging development and use of “green” technologies and demonstrating leadership in “green” building, as well as water and energy conservation.
A final “Growth Plan” will guide future policy development and infrastructure investments by the province.
“The true strength of the north is its people, their resourcefulness, and their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Northern Development, Mines, and Forestry minister Michael Gravelle.
“We’re harnessing these qualities to develop a ‘Growth Plan’ for Northern Ontario that is built by northerners, for northerners,” he stressed.
“We look forward to reaping the benefits in an innovative, robust, and competitive northern economy,” Gravelle added.
“This proposed ‘Growth Plan’ brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal—a strong, diversified northern economy based on globally-competitive industry, a highly-qualified workforce, and successful collaboration among all northerners,” echoed Energy and Infrastructure minister George Smitherman.
“Keeping Northern Ontario strong and prosperous today and in the future is important to all of us, and a ‘Growth Plan for Northern Ontario’ will give greater opportunities for economic prosperity in our community,” said Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci.
“We worked very hard to ensure that Northern Ontario would be the second ‘growth plan’ developed in Ontario,” noted Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.
“We look forward to the positive economic impact that this plan will have in our region,” he added.
The “Growth Plan for Northern Ontario” is the second regionally-specific plan to be developed under the Places to Grow Act, 2005.
Northern Ontario covers 800,000 square km, or 90 percent of the province’s land base. Northern-based mining, forestry, tourism, and agriculture industries contribute more than $23 billion annually to Ontario’s economy.
In the next 20 years, aboriginal youth will represent a quarter of the north’s labour force.