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Liberals unveil northern platform. Promise an immigration plan that attracts New Canadians to the north and highway improvements

Del Duca says he will be slashing municipal and Ontario Northland fares to a 'buck-a-ride' and advancing the “2+1” highway model to support safe passing on major northern Ontario highways

Ontario Liberals say they will take control of Ontario’s immigration system to bring "skilled newcomers that drive the northern economy."

Leader Steven Del Duca announced today at Lee Park in North Bay that the Ontario Liberal Northern Platform will "deliver on long-standing demands from northern mayors for an immigration plan that attracts New Canadians to cities and regions across northern Ontario and ensure skilled labour matches the jobs needed to build and grow the northern economy," according to a news release.

He was introduced by Nipissing candidate Tanya Vrebosch, who called Del Duca, "a friend of the north and the ONTC."

“An Ontario Liberal victory in June will be a mandate for a new immigration agreement along the same lines as what Québec enjoys.” said Del Duca, “Ontario should be in the immigration driver's seat to ensure we are filling the skilled jobs needed to build more homes and staff our emergency rooms. northern towns and cities stand to benefit most from a new focus on skilled immigration.”

"The Ontario Liberal plan for northern Ontario focuses on building homes, schools, and hospitals. Our workforce is in desperate need of the specific skills to get this job done," says a news release. "Immigration is currently a federal issue, but it’s time Ontario takes over its own immigration and gains control over who we welcome to the province, just like Québec. To implement this task, an Ontario Liberal government will appoint a dedicated Minister of Immigration."

Del Duca says in the 2018 Northern Leaders’ Debate, Doug Ford shut down the request of northern mayors to attract more skilled immigrants, instead of saying he would be “taking care of our own first,” slamming the door to improvements to our immigration system that would benefit the north.

"Fortunately the federal government came through with a time-limited pilot program for the north, but Ontario Liberals know we need a long-term approach. We will strike a Northern Ontario Immigration Advisory Panel, composed of northern municipal leaders and economic development officers, to ensure this new system is established in the best interests of the North.

The Ontario Liberal plan will also make northern Ontario a place to grow by:

  • Ensuring the highest possible level of winter maintenance on Highways 11 and 17;
  • Promoting safer winter driving by introducing a refundable tax credit of $75 per winter tire and $100 per studded tire in northern Ontario;
  • Advancing the proven “2+1” highway model to support safe passing on major Northern Ontario highways;
  • Making Community Transportation Grants permanent and slashing municipal and Ontario Northland fares to a “buck-a-ride;”
  • Ensuring everyone can access a family doctor or nurse practitioner within 24 hours, regardless of their postal code;
  • Covering tuition costs for medical and nursing students who commit to working in a rural or remote community;
  • Getting affordable, high-speed internet to everyone in northern Ontario by 2025;
  • Constructing new roads to open up access to the Ring of Fire;
  • Supporting and empowering northern municipalities by rebating 5 per cent of the provincial mining tax;
  • Promoting economic development and regional tourism by boosting funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to $150 million;
  • Building or repairing Northern community infrastructure, like libraries and arenas;
  • Reversing Ford Conservative cuts and delays to critical northern services and projects, and ensuring the following projects move ahead:
    • The four-laning of Highway 69 and Highway 11/7 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon by 2025;
    • The widening of Highway 17 from Kenora to the Manitoba border;
    • The reconstruction of Highway 101 in Timmins;
    • The Cochrane bypass from Highway 11 to Highway 652.

He promises northern Ontarians will benefit from the bold vision outlined in ‘A Place to Grow,’ including:

  • Giving 400,000 more seniors access to homecare over the next four years;
  • Ending for-profit long-term care while creating 30,000 new and 28,000 redeveloped long-term care spaces;
  • Making food more affordable by eliminating the provincial portion of the HST on prepared foods up to $20;
  • Slashing transit fares to $1 across the province, including on all municipal transit systems and Ontario Northland.

It was the Liberals that cancelled the Northlander passenger rail service back in 2012.

“Our Northern platform will grow essential services like healthcare and education, build critical infrastructure, and create good jobs in the region. On June 2, people in northern Ontario will be able to choose a new Ontario Liberal government that would help grow the North," Del Duca committed.

Read the Ontario Liberal Party’s full Northern platform here.