What the Province offered What the TBay Asked
TORONTO, ONTARIO January 22, 2020 (LSN) While speaking at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) annual conference, Premier Doug Ford announced the province is now accepting applications for a new intake this year under the RED program. As part of the government's Plan to Build Ontario Together, Ontario is helping rural communities across the province attract investment, create jobs and boost economic development through the Rural Economic Development (RED) program.
"Many rural communities are feeling left behind," said Premier Doug Ford. "We need to make sure everyone, no matter where they live, can find a good job, grow a business, start a family, and build a better life for themselves. The RED program is one of the many ways that our government is helping to bring real benefits to more communities in rural Ontario."
Rural communities and regions, Indigenous communities and organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and local service boards can all apply for the RED program starting today through February 24, 2020.
As part of the program's Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream, the province will cover up to 50% of the costs for eligible projects that help remove barriers to job creation and attract investment and skilled workers that will help regions grow. The Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream of the program enables the province to cover up to 30% of eligible minor capital projects that help spur economic growth, such as restoring museums and heritage sites, setting up community hubs, and streetscaping.
The Ontario government is also working with our federal partners and the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project to provide a combined investment of nearly $35 million for a broadband pilot in rural communities across Ontario. SWIFT is taking the next step today by awarding contracts to successful bidders to help bring better broadband service to three counties in Southwestern Ontario.
"This investment will help SWIFT move forward on projects that will provide broadband access to approximately 11,000 more homes and businesses across Norfolk, Wellington and Lambton counties," said Minister Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Having high-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity that allows our businesses to connect to global markets, enables students and workers to learn and upgrade their skills, and allows people to bank or shop online."
The Ontario government is committed to helping build stronger rural communities that can attract investment and jobs to their region and promote new economic opportunities for their residents.
The government is also supporting rural Ontario through additional measures that include:
- Responding to farmer and rural municipality concerns by introducing Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 in the Ontario Legislature. If passed, the legislation will better protect farmers, their families, their employees, animals, livestock transporters, and the province's food supply.
- Providing $450,000 in new funding for the Rural Ontario Institute, an organization that provides leadership development programs for agriculture, rural businesses and organizations that help drive economic development and promote leadership in rural communities.
- Hosting a series of economic roundtables to listen to the views of people living in rural Ontario to understand how best to leverage the potential for economic growth in their communities. The first roundtable took place on January 19 at ROMA.
- Developing the new AgriSuite, a valuable suite of tools for farmers, land use planners and municipalities encompassing a phosphorus risk assessment to support environmental sustainability and Nutrient Management Planning tools that help to protect drinking water sources.
Thunder Bay Delegation Brings Priorities to Provincial Level
Thunder Bay’s key priorities were addressed during the 2020 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference in Toronto this week.
A delegation led by Councillor Brian McKinnon, Chair – Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, along with Mayor Bill Mauro, and City Manager Norm Gale brought forward community issues to lobby for action and/or funding, and promote Thunder Bay’s important issues relevant to the community.
“The ROMA Conference allows us to strengthen our city’s relationship with the Province by providing opportunities to connect with those who can help drive progress for Thunder Bay and indeed the north,” said Mayor Bill Mauro. “Our delegation presented on a number of key priorities with a goal to forge ahead in a positive direction.”
The Thunder Bay delegation secured meetings with Provincial Ministers, and/or designates, including:
- Doug Downey, Attorney General, Ministry of the Solicitor General
- Sylvia Jones, Ministry of the Solicitor General
- Parliamentary Assistant, Parm Gill, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
- Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Health
- Parliamentary Assistant Stan Cho, Ministry of Finance
“Overall, our efforts at connecting with Provincial Ministers to discuss our priorities were a success,” said Councillor McKinnon, Chair of Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. “We had time to speak to key issues facing our city and region, including lobbying for crucial work needed for the Bombardier Plant.”
Key priorities the Thunder Bay delegation lobbied for included:
- Collection of Provincial Offences Act (POA) fines
- Police Services Funding
- Next Gen 911
- Evacuation Procedures
- Shelter House funding
- Detox beds
- Crisis Centre for Mental Health and Addictions
- Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund
The ROMA 2020 conference program brought forward a wide range of issues that are critically important to rural municipalities, and brought together municipal leaders from all over Ontario together with Provincial politicians to discuss and advance the priorities of rural communities.
The Thunder Bay delegation was also a part of the NOMA Multi Minister Session where they spoke to many issues.
Overall, the conference saw keynote presenters such as the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, along with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Minister of Health, and leaders of the NDP, Liberal and Green Party of Ontario.
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