FONOM Welcomes New Provincial Cabinet with high hopes for the NorthThursday, February 14, 2013 by: Kate AdamsFederation of Northern Ontario Municipalities
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is happy to welcome new Premier Kathleen Wynneâ€™s freshly appointed Cabinet, and is optimistic about the possibility for a renewed relationship between the Province and northern Ontario.
FONOM would like to extend a warm welcome and congratulations to new Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray, who met with FONOM president Al Spacek during the leadership race and expressed support for more collaboration with northern communities as decisions are made that impact them. FONOM hopes that Minister Murray will continue to be engaged in dealing with pressing northern issues, such as the former governmentâ€™s decision to divest the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC).
FONOM also congratulates former Minister of Natural Resources, Thunder Bay MPP Michael Gravelle, on his new appointment to Minister of Northern Development and Mines, which has jurisdiction over ONTC.
As Minister of Natural Resources, Minister Gravelle took positive steps toward protecting the interests of northern Ontario by supporting the decision to allow three of ten northern provincial parks the government announced plans to close, to remain open this year. The Federation now calls on Minister Gravelle to take swift action in his new role to stop the provinceâ€™s divestment in ONTC, and engage local stakeholders before further action is taken that affects northern communities.
FONOM also hopes that Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti will follow Minister Gravelleâ€™s footsteps, as the new Minister of Natural Resources. FONOM congratulates MPP Orazietti on his appointment, and hopes that he will also show a strong commitment to northern issues and extend the existing pilot program that called for five parks, up from three, to remain open either for spring 2013 or 2014.
Finally, FONOM would like to congratulate Brampton Springdale MPP Linda Jeffrey, a former Minister of Natural Resources, on her appointment as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It is FONOMâ€™s sincere hope that she, too, will work together with local municipalities on issues of importance to northeastern Ontario, such as land-based ambulance transfers.
FONOM President and Mayor of Kapuskasing Al Spacek would like to personally welcome the new cabinet and express his optimism for future collaboration.
â€śDecisions made by the former Liberal government last year that affected Northern Ontario like the plan to divest in and sell off ONTC and close ten northern parks for overnight camping, was a tremendous disappointment to northern communities. With a new cabinet in place, there is hope for building a stronger northern economy. FONOM will not be wasting any time approaching the new cabinet members on important northern files. We plan to get to work immediately with members of the new cabinet to focus on solutions.â€ť Said Al Spacek.
In the days and weeks to come, FONOM will be acting swiftly to move forward on northern Ontario issues, and will be contacting the new Cabinet with cautious optimism about the future of northern Ontario.