New Minister, Less Money, and No Practical Plan for Development: Rafferty
THUNDER BAY – Canada’s New Democrats believe that the Harper Conservatives are turning their backs on business and small communities in Northern Ontario with massive cuts to program funding for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor).
“This is more than bad timing, or a single case of bad judgment. We are seeing a series of bad decisions at the Cabinet level - from staffing to budgeting to planning - that is failing small communities and businesses throughout Northern Ontario,” said New Democrat FedNor Critic, John Rafferty (Thunder Bay - Rainy River).
Rafferty said he was particularly incensed by the announcement of a new Ministerial position for FedNor in the federal budget which was followed a week later by massive cuts to programming and services. “The end result is that Conservatives have just given their Minister a huge pay increase, a limousine and more political staff and taken an axe to important and effective programs and services, like the Local Initiative Contribution grants and the Community Economic Development program,” he said. “They are looking out for their own political interests while ignoring the economic needs of Northern Ontario. It is completely unacceptable.”
In the 2013-14 federal budget presented to parliament it was announced that FedNor and FedDev, the economic development agency for Southern Ontario, would be receiving a new Ministerial position. However, the new strategic plan for FedNor released last week shows that overall spending for FedNor will be slashed by nearly 18%, from $73 million in 2012 to just $60.3 million in 2014-15. These new spending cuts at FedNor follow the cancellation of the Local Initiative Grant program in last year’s budget, and will result in approximately 20 job losses, or 16% of the staff at FedNor.
"The lack of a clear strategy is the symptom of a tired Conservative government. If the economic performance of the country and our region are in as precarious a state as the Conservatives say, then why are they adding limos and political staff to the department while cutting programs and services that support of economic development?, asked the Chair of the Northern Ontario Caucus, Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury). The Conservatives simply don’t have a practical plan to help develop, grown, and diversify the economy of our region.”
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Jayson McDonald: email@example.com, or 613-290-