SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Today, Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown and the PC Caucus hosted a press conference at Roberta Bondar Park to discuss the importance of Northern Ontario.
This was Brown’s fourteenth visit to Northern Ontario in the past year and third since becoming Leader. The Ontario PC Caucus chose Sault Ste. Marie for their Caucus retreat to build upon Mr. Brown’s ongoing efforts to reach out to Northerners and to show the commitment of the PC Caucus to be a strong voice for Northern Ontario at Queen’s Park.
Over the past twelve years, the Liberal government has ignored the value and potential of Northern Ontario. Brown noted many concerns for the North were not being heard whether they were about the decline of the forestry and mining sectors, job losses, crippling energy costs, red tape or inaction on the Ring of Fire.
“The energy policies of this Liberal government have been the most damaging of all their policies. Whether it was the $1 billion on the gas plant scandal, the $2 billion on the smart meters, the billing problems we keep hearing about or now the fire sale of Hydro One, there is a reason we continue to lose jobs. We will make this a priority at Queen’s Park because you can’t recruit jobs to Ontario and you can’t retain jobs in Ontario unless you have competitive energy prices,” said Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown.
“High energy costs are a huge cost on business but there are also too many families living in energy poverty in Ontario because under the Liberal watch we’ve seen costs go up $1000 for the average family. That is why we must get our energy policy right in Ontario,” added Brown.
A prosperous Ontario includes a North working at its highest potential and access to the Ring of Fire continues to be one of the most pressing issues for the economic prosperity of the region. To be successful there first needs to be a commitment to build the transportation corridors that are needed to access the region’s economic potential.
“Missing transportation corridors, energy prices and regulatory burdens are challenges for business. When an EA (Environmental Assessment) is supposed to take forty-five days and it ends up taking three years; that’s unacceptable. We have to get the fundamentals right and that’s what we are committed to doing,” said Brown.
Mr. Brown addressed the job market and employment trends in the area, including the 55 jobs cut in February at Essar Steel Algoma and 42 nurses laid off from the Sault Area Hospital this year. The trends suggest the Wynne Liberal’s failed economic policies are compounding the challenges facing the North.
“Whether it’s a new ORPP payroll tax, skyrocketing hydro rates or more red tape – the Wynne government is making it harder for industry to be competitive in Northern Ontario and harder for business to succeed right across the province,” declared the PC Party Leader.
Mr. Brown also highlighted a recent report by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) that examines the impact of the Liberal government’s hospital funding policies on Northern Ontario patients. With a $10 million cut to funding, the Sault Area Hospital is set to close 50 beds. This is the 4th year in a row the North has not received funding increases for health care services.
“The Wynne Liberals have slashed $54 million from health care in the 2015 budget and the Liberal MPP for this riding remains silent on the massive funding cuts to his local hospital. It is further proof the Liberals do not represent Northern values and they just aren’t in it for Northern Ontario anymore,” said Brown.