McGuinty Government Invests In New Generation Of Forest Sector Jobs

Archived Release

McGuinty Government Invests In New Generation Of Forest Sector Jobs

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Responds To Challenges Facing Sector THUNDER BAY, ON, Sept. 29 - The McGuinty government is boosting the competitiveness of the province's forest sector through a major investment aimed at fostering a new generation of forest sector jobs, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay said today. "The forest industry provides good jobs for northerners and supports the prosperity of the entire province, but the sector is facing some tough challenges, including the adjustment to a higher Canadian dollar," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. "Together with northerners, we will work to make forestry a viable sector. We're doing our part, and we're urging the federal government to honour its own commitment to come forward with tangible financial support." The Ontario government is committing $330 million over the next five years by: - Investing $150 million over the next three years through a Forest Sector Prosperity Fund to leverage new capital investments in a variety of areas - Investing $28 million annually to maintain primary forest access roads to reduce delivered wood costs - Investing $10 million annually by 2007/08 to enhance the Forest Resource Inventory to ensure the long-term sustainability of the wood supply - Investing $1 million per year, beginning in 2006/07, in an Ontario Wood Promotion program to enhance value-added manufacturing. Today's measures build on several initiatives announced in June, including a five-year, $350 million loan guarantee program. These measures respond to the many challenges facing the forestry industry, including changing global markets, increasing competition, escalating costs and a rising Canadian dollar. "Supporting our province's forestry sector is part of our government's plan to build economic prosperity and responds to the report of the Forest Sector Competitiveness Council," said Ramsay. "By supporting the forest sector today, we are attracting new investment and helping the industry become globally-viable." "The government of Ontario is working with the forest industry by supporting capital projects in areas such as electricity conservation and co- generation," said Minister of Energy Dwight Duncan. "This initiative complements the programs the Ontario Power Authority is developing to encourage more efficient, cost-effective energy use across the forest industry, and it reinforces this government's commitment to addressing the challenges the industry faces." The forest sector is one of the key economic engines of Ontario's economy. With annual sales of about $18 billion and exports of about $9 billion, the forest industry provides direct and indirect employment to over 200,000 people across the province. While many communities in the north depend on the industry, thousands of jobs in southern Ontario depend on companies that supply the industry or use its products. Disponible en français www.mnr.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- FOREST INDUSTRY COMPETITIVENESS Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay released the report of the Minister's Council on Forest Sector Competitiveness on June 13, 2005. With membership including municipal and forest industry leaders, First Nations delegates, labour, environmental groups and independent experts, the council was set up to advise the government on ways to strengthen the forest industry. The council's recommendations covered such topics as wood supply, delivered wood costs (which refers to the cost of forest industry activities related to supplying wood fibre to processing facilities), energy, the climate for investment and working together. An initial response to the report was released in June. The government is now acting on a number of additional measures to assist the industry. - Ontario will set up a Forest Sector Prosperity Fund of $150 million over three years. The purpose of the fund will be to leverage new capital investments in the following areas: energy conservation and cogeneration, improved fibre efficiency, value-added manufacturing, environmental technologies and infrastructure needs associated with these priorities. - The government will cover the costs of maintaining primary forest access roads up to a maximum of $28 million annually. This is one of several measures the government is taking to help reduce delivered wood costs for the industry. - The province's Forest Resource Inventory will be enhanced through an investment of $10 million annually to ensure that the inventory is current and accurate. This will help support better forest management decisions. The database is the basis for major forest resource planning and policy decisions. The province will provide $7.5 million in 2006/07, and $10 million for each of the next three years. - An Ontario Wood Promotion program is being established to promote and enhance the value-added manufacturing business within the industry. This will be funded through an investment of $1 million annually, beginning in 2006/07. The goal of these measures is to address immediate competitiveness challenges faced by the Ontario forest sector, provide a positive climate for investment and to strengthen the industry's future through joint industry and government actions. Forest companies and labour also have a role to play and must work together in finding efficiencies to make the industry more competitive globally. Today's commitments are in addition to those already announced in June, including loan guarantees, a move to multi-party shareholder Sustainable Forest Licences, streamlined approvals for forestry activities and recognition of a panel of Council members. More information on the loan guarantee program, as well as applications, will be available on the ministry's website in mid-October. The loan guarantees will help stimulate investment in value-added manufacturing, improved energy efficiency and better wood fibre use. Ontario's forest industry, one of the province's economic engines, contributes about $3 billion to the provincial balance of trade annually. Some 40 communities are highly dependent on the forest sector, which provides direct employment to about 90,000 people. Contact: Bill Kissick Forest Sector Competitiveness Secretariat 705-945-6675 Disponible en français www.mnr.gov.on.ca Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- STRONG COMMITMENT TO THE NORTH The McGuinty government is committed to promoting economic prosperity and stronger communities in the North. It is pursuing this goal through a range of initiatives across the government. Northern Prosperity Plan The Northern Prosperity Plan aims to stimulate growth, job creation and better quality of life for Northern Ontario. It is based on four pillars: Strengthening the North and its Communities; Listening to and Serving Northerners Better; Competing Globally; and Providing New Opportunities for All. Under the plan, the government has put in place new programs in the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund that focus on private sector job creation, youth, community development, emerging technologies, telecommunications and energy conservation. The 2005 Budget included an annual contribution of $60 million to support the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation's (NOHFC) new mandate. Recent NOHFC announcements have included support for the promotion of secondary wood manufacturing opportunities, an investment in a new melamine lamination plant and funding to build a manufacturing facility that will produce value-added products. Since October 2003, 1,047 jobs have been created from NOHFC investments. The Northern Ontario Grow Bonds program uses some $13 million worth of bonds to provide loans to new and growing businesses in the North. The GO North Investor Program has also been launched. It is an international marketing campaign aimed at strengthening the North's competitive advantages and attracting large-scale investments for Northern communities. As well, three Northern Development Councils have been established to engage northerners in decision that will affect them. Northern Highways As part of its Northern Highway Strategy, over the next five years Ontario will invest $1.8 billion to expand and improve northern highways. The strategy will increase infrastructure investment in the North by almost 40 per cent, improve road safety and encourage economic development across the North. The five-year plan will create 45,000 jobs, ensure optimum safety for drivers and facilitate economic growth through enhanced access to markets elsewhere in the province. In 2005-06 alone, an unprecedented total of $297 million will be invested under the Northern Highways Program. Small Business Enterprise Centres Ontario has a network of Small Business Enterprise Centres, seven of which are located in the North, to assist new entrepreneurs in the evaluation and process of business start-up and provide support to early growth-stage businesses through their first five years. The centres (in Haileybury, Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins) provide entrepreneurs with easy access to business consulting services and information, as well as resources related to management, marketing, technology and financing. The centres are a partnership with local municipalities, the private sector and, in Northern Ontario, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Northern Ontario School of Medicine The Ontario government is committed to improving access to health care services for people in the North and has established the new Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which opened in August 2005 with 56 students. The government committed $95.3 million over three years towards the development of the school with campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay. Through the NOHFC, the government is helping to meet future health care needs of northerners by providing up to $5 million to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine Bursary Fund to help students from northern, rural and remote communities defray the costs associated with attending medical school. New Hospitals The government is working to improve health care across the North and is helping to build local hospitals. The new Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is the largest hospital in northwestern Ontario and is improving the quality of life for thousands of Northern Ontarians. The Sudbury Regional Hospital redevelopment project consolidates three hospital sites into one. The state-of-the-art hospital is also a teaching facility with the Northern Ontario Medical School. In addition, the government has announced a new Sault Area Hospital, which will provide a full range of hospital services for people across the Sault Ste. Marie region. Also, construction of the North Bay Regional Health Centre is scheduled to start in spring of 2006. Tourism Following the strategic directions outlined in the Ontario Tourism Strategy, the government is implementing several initiatives to further tourism opportunities in Northern Ontario, including investing over $5 million annually to enhance northern tourism marketing efforts. This involves working in partnership with the tourism industry, ensuring northern representation on the board of directors of the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, setting up a permanent Northern Marketing Committee on the board, and establishing an office in Sault Ste. Marie to support the new committee. Training for the North The government works closely with employers and employees in the North to help ensure competitiveness in the global economy. Five local training and adjustment boards are active in the North and bring together business, labour, educators and others to build community capacity for addressing local labour market issues. There are six Apprenticeship Offices across the North that work with industries and local communities to support northern development initiatives. As well, the Job Connect program helps people plan, prepare for and succeed in the job market, as well as upgrade skills, while giving employers a source from which to hire staff. There are 16 delivery agencies providing Job Connect services at 29 different sites across Northern Ontario. Contact: Steve Payne Communications Services Branch 416-314-2103 Disponible en français www.mnr.gov.on.caFor further information: Media Calls Only - Anne-Marie Flanagan, Minister's Office, (416) 327-0654; Steve Payne, Communications Services Branch, (416) 314-2103