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McGuinty Government Continues To Spur New Telecommunications And Energy Investments In The North

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McGuinty Government Continues To Spur New Telecommunications And Energy Investments In The North

NOHFC Program Enhancements Focus On "Connecting" The North And Business Energy Needs

SAULT STE. MARIE - New programs designed to accelerate telecommunications infrastructure development and to encourage Northern Ontario businesses and communities to use renewable energy are among the funding initiatives announced today by Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci.

"The McGuinty government was very clear three years ago that it intended to refocus the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to support job creation and economic development," said Bartolucci, who is also Chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC).  "We have delivered on that commitment and continue to work with our northern stakeholders to make improvements along the way that better serve their needs and those of our communities."

Key changes to NOHFC programs include a renewed focus for the Emerging Technology Program.  The program will encourage investment in telecommunications infrastructure projects that could bring broadband Internet and cellular service to most of the North within three years.  

In addition, the NOHFC is introducing a new Northern Energy Program to help private and public sector partners pursue clean renewable energy generation capacity to reduce their demand on external energy sources or to produce energy for sale to the electrical grid.  This program includes support for renewable energy initiatives, new internal energy generation projects as well as energy conservation pilot projects.

"Our government has played an important role in improving the communication capabilities of northerners through the NOHFC by bringing broadband and cellular services to more remote areas of our region with the  help of community based organizations like ADnet in Sault Ste. Marie," said Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti, who participated in today's announcement.  "The new energy program will also be an important catalyst for encouraging new business and industrial investments in our northern communities."

Other NOHFC programs will continue to provide new opportunities for Northern Ontario youth career training, youth entrepreneurship, private sector business and industrial investment, as well as public-private partnerships across the North.  Northern communities will continue to benefit from ongoing support to improve strategic infrastructure and invest in economic development activities that will boost job creation and economic growth in Northern Ontario.  

"Since October 2003, we have committed more than $197 million in some 900 northern projects, which have created or sustained nearly 7,400 jobs across the North," said Bartolucci.  "These newly revised programs will increase the NOHFC's capacity to work with its northern partners to build a strong economy, while supporting vital projects that improve the quality of life in Northern Ontario."

The NOHFC is an important component of the government's Northern Prosperity Plan for building stronger northern communities. The Northern Prosperity Plan has four pillars: Strengthening the North and its Communities; Listening to and Serving Northerners Better; Competing Globally; and Providing Opportunities for All.  Since 2003, investments in infrastructure, postsecondary education, research and innovation and key economic sectors have helped strengthen Ontario's economic foundations and continue to build opportunity.

Laura Blondeau
Minister's Office - Sudbury
(705) 564-7454    

Michel Lavoie
MNDM - Sudbury
(705) 564-7125



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