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McGuinty Government Improving Northern Highways

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McGuinty Government Improving Northern Highways

Record Investment Will Mean More Prosperity For Families In The North

Office of the Premier

The Ontario government is improving the quality of life for northern families by expanding and rehabilitating highways in northern Ontario, said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"Our province can only reach its full potential when every region -- including the north -- reaches its full potential," said Premier McGuinty. "Today's announcement means improved road safety and even more economic opportunities for Ontario families living in the north."

The government is investing a record $357 million to expand and upgrade the nearly 11,000-kilometre highway network in northern Ontario through its Northern Highways Program. This investment will help increase highway safety, support economic development and improve access to major communities in the north.

Several highway expansion projects are underway or planned for west of Thunder Bay, east of Sault Ste. Marie and along the Highway 69 and 11 corridors. The investment will also support highway rehabilitation projects along major routes in both the northwest and northeast.

This investment is part of the Northern Ontario Highways Strategy and Renew Ontario, the government's $30-billion infrastructure investment plan. Under Renew Ontario, the government will invest $1.8 billion over five years to upgrade and expand northern highways.

Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci and local MPP David Orazietti joined the Premier for today's announcement.

"Our government is on the side of northerners," said Bartolucci. "That's why, last year, we announced our intention to invest over $1.8 billion, over five years, to make sure northern highways are safe and efficient."

"Sault and area residents are well aware of the challenges of driving in the north and today's investment clearly demonstrates that our government is committed to improving the safety and quality of our region's highways," said Orazietti. "Combined with the new hospital, multi-purpose entertainment centre, waterfront project and youth justice centre, today's funding furthers our government's support for Sault Ste. Marie's prosperity."

"Highways are critical to the quality of life and economic prosperity of communities throughout northern Ontario," said Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield. "This means that people and commerce throughout the north will benefit from upgraded highway infrastructure."

Today's announcement is part of the McGuinty government's Northern Prosperity Plan, which includes strengthening northern communities and providing more opportunities for northern families. It's also just the latest example of how the government is working on the side of northerners. Other initiatives include:

  • Investing an additional $6.9 million in northern Ontario roads in 2006-07 through the Connecting Links Program. A connecting link is a municipal road that connects two ends of a provincial highway through an urban municipality
  • Investing over $19 million in northern health care in 2006-07 to reduce wait times in the north, and for major hospital expansions and improvements in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Sudbury
  • Opening the first Northern Ontario School of Medicine to help alleviate the doctors shortage
  • Investing $10 million for the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation at Laurentian University.

"We're committed to making real improvements on northern highways because we're committed to improving the quality of life for northerners and building opportunity," said Premier McGuinty. "By strengthening northern communities, we're strengthening our province -- in the north and across Ontario."

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Driving and Roads