Liberals committed to developing northern Ontario – by Rick Bartolucci

Rick Bartolucci is the MPP for Sudbury and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

The famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, “Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.” It’s a quality held by those who want you to forget the results of the NDP and the Harris/Hudak Conservatives during their respective years of governing Ontario.

I often say that in order to appreciate how far we’ve come, we need to remember where we’ve been. I recall what Sudbury endured during those years. I also know that the Ontario Liberals sprung into action once elected in 2003, determined to focus on our region. 

We have a strong northern caucus with three northern cabinet ministers who passionately advocate for northern communities on a daily basis. That commitment was recently evidenced as we launched the Northern Growth Plan and set aside $5 million to create a Northern Policy Institute to ensure northerners have a greater say in policy decisions affecting our region. 

This latest announcement further exemplifies the fact our government’s record is a stark contrast to that of the NDP and the Conservatives. Under the PCs, we saw the hospital debacle, the fake promise to fourlane Highway 69 from Sudbury and the one-size-fits-all policies that led to the largest out-migration in Canadian history. 

Then there was their handling of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC), introduced by a previous Liberal government to spur northern job creation. Former Premier Mike Harris allowed non-northerners to access the fund and used it as a personal slush fund for golf tournaments and the like. Those opposed to the PC’s ill-conceived policies were dismissed as “special interest groups.” 

Current PC leader Tim Hudak is a proud Mike Harris protégé and promises more of the same.

Before the Tories, we suffered under the NDP. Then and now, they are blinded by ideology, lack of vision, and demonstrate zero understanding of what is needed to remain viable in a global economy. 

Mindless spending as a means to solve all problems does not make for sound economic planning or effective long-term solutions. 

The NDP removed $60 million from the NOHFC and put it in general revenues in an attempt to hide their horrible money management abilities. In addition, to this day, pensions for public sector workers in Sudbury and elsewhere are affected due to the NDP’s social contract.

There’s a clear contrast between our government and the others. For example, we: 

  • Completed Sudbury’s single site hospital;
  • Launched the Highway 69 Action Plan with roughly $625 million invested to date;
  • Developed a Northern-specific funding formula to ensure we get our fair share of police officers;
  • Refocused the northern Ontario Heritage Fund back to job creation. To date the fund has leveraged $2 billion and created or sustained almost 14,500 northern jobs;
  • Created northern specific energy credits;
  • Invested $10 million in the Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation
  • Invested $5 million in the Vale Inco Living with Lakes Centre;
  • Invested in the Vale Hospice, the Sustainable Energy Centre at Cambrian, and the Trades and Technology Complex at College Boreal;
  • Built the St. Joseph’s Complex Continuing Care Centre;
  • We’re building a long-term care facility, and new schools in virtually every corner of Sudbury.

Historically, provincial governments of all political stripes have faced long-standing northern challenges.  

The difference is, the Ontario Liberals have a thoughtful eye to the needs of today and the challenges of the future. We know that the strength of Ontario lays in the prosperity of all of its regions, and that’s the approach we’ll continue to take, moving forward. 

Past practice is the best predictor of future behavior. I encourage you to compare our record against the other two parties and I thank you for allowing me to work with you, for you.

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