Business Leaders call for an Ontario Natural Resources Strategy
Days before Ontarians head to the polls, representatives from Aboriginal business, mining, prospectors, forestry, local government, and the broader business community are calling for the creation of a provincial natural resource strategy with specific actions, following a roundtable discussion held in Timmins.
"A strong natural resources sector in Ontario provides skilled jobs for northern communities, including Aboriginal communities, and helps to ensure a prosperous economy. At a time when Ontario is facing a skills mismatch, our next government must take bold action, working with the natural resource and northern communities, to address current challenges and provide a pathway forward for industry leadership in the global marketplace." said Rocco Rossi, Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
The need to develop this strategy was the primary recommendation that emerged from the landmark meeting, which was convened at the Timmins Chamber of Commerce to stimulate thinking on priorities and opportunities for growth in Ontario's resource sector. It included the following participants:
- Mayor Steve Black, Timmins
- Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
- Paul-Emile McNab, Director, Business Development & Strategy Initiative, Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business
- Chris Hodgson, President & CEO, Ontario Mining Association
- Bill MacRae, Vice-President Operations, Ontario Prospectors Association
- Tom Laughren, Director Corporate Responsibility, Tahoe Resources Canada
- Derek Nighbor, President & CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada
- Kevin Edgson, President & CEO, EACOM Timber Corporation
- Nick Stewart, Manager of Policy, Research & Communications, Timmins Chamber of Commerce
These cross-sector roundtable participants concur that Ontario businesses face many challenges that need to be addressed to support economic growth and stability for the province. Resource industries are the backbone of Ontario's economy, representing an important source of greater living standards and well-being for all; however, the cumulative regulatory and financial burden associated with this sector is threatening its competitiveness.
With the resources sector keen to engage with government on solutions to address some of the unique challenges facing Northern Ontario, the scope and breadth of the issues will require collaboration from several provincial ministries. By developing a natural resource strategy, government would ensure coordination of efforts across ministries, stakeholders and communities.
To that end, the group is recommending that the incoming government consider the following as part of a broader natural resource strategy:
- Reduce Energy Costs
- Address Regulatory and Administrative Burden
- Improve Skills Training and Talent Availability
- Build Capacity in Aboriginal Communities
- Support Northern Ontario Infrastructure
"A strong resource sector can help Ontario deliver on key priorities, including securing and diversifying procurement opportunities, enhancing investments in innovation and strengthening relations with the Province's Indigenous Peoples" declared JP Gladu, President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business.
Resource companies are well-positioned to work with the government to build the capacity that will support Aboriginal entrepreneurship and community participation in the resource economy.
"The resource sector is important to Timmins and the rest of the Province. These industries provide good family-supporting jobs in our communities and can bring prosperity to the North. Municipalities and Indigenous communities want to participate and benefit from a strong resource sector. We will look to the incoming government to work with us on a strategy that unlocks barriers and supports growth in the industries" said Timmins Mayor Steve Black.
A government ready for bold action can strengthen Ontario's position in the global economy. Today's participants encourage all parties to consider the role a strong resources sector can play in a prosperous Ontario and will work with the next provincial government to develop a resource strategy for the benefit of all Ontarians.
Chris Hodgson, President and CEO of the Ontario Mining Association: "The world needs sustainably-sourced resources to make modern life a reality. Ontario already has a competitive advantage: we are not only rich in resources; we mine them responsibly and are committed to innovation that will further reduce our environmental footprint, thus contributing to decarbonizing our planet. The next Ontario government has much to gain from building on this advantage."
Garry Clarke, President and CEO of the Ontario Prospectors Association: "In the last 15 years, the exploration within Ontario has not discovered new mineral deposits at a rate that replaces the deposits being mined. The Province is at a critical point where exploration needs assistance to address the challenges to get boots on the ground as quickly as possible."
Derek Nighbor, President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada: "Today, 52 percent of all Canada's exports come from our natural resources sector – energy, mining, forestry, and agriculture. All our industries are transforming in their own ways to keep pace in this rapidly changing global economy. We need government to work closely with our communities so that our people and businesses in northern and rural Canada can sustain themselves and grow in the face of this disruption."
Kevin Edgson, President and CEO of EACOM Timber Corporation: "These partners coming together demonstrates a willingness across sectors to collaborate with the government on a growth strategy. We have made long-term investments in Northern Ontario and are keen to grow the business. Working forests are part of Ontario's future."
Jamie Clarke, President and CEO of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce: "The natural resource sector represents an integral component of our economy, and the Timmins Chamber has long stood as a strong advocate for the removal of barriers to its competitiveness. We're extremely pleased to be able to work alongside these important partners from throughout the province to address these issues collaboratively, and we look forward to advancing these priorities with the next provincial government."
About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
For more than a century, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has been the independent, non-partisan voice of Ontario business. The OCC's mission is to support economic growth in Ontario by defending business priorities at Queen's Park on behalf of its network's diverse 60,000 members. The OCC's vision is to foster a vibrant and economically sustainable province that is driven by an innovative, successful and ever-expanding business community. From innovative SMEs to established multinational corporations and industry associations, the OCC is committed to working with our members to improve business competitiveness across all sectors. The OCC represents local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in over 135 communities across Ontario, steering public policy conversations provincially and within local communities.
About the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business
CCAB is committed to the full participation of Aboriginal people in Canada's economy. A national non-profit, non-partisan association, CCAB offers knowledge, resources, and programs to both mainstream and Aboriginal owned companies that foster economic opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses across Canada.
About the Ontario Mining Association
The OMA is one of the longest serving trade organizations in Canada and has a history of working constructively with governments and communities of interest to build consensus on issues that matter to our industry and to the people of the province. With a mission to improve the competitiveness of Ontario's mining industry, while promoting safety and sustainability, our 80 members aim to foster an environment that bolsters mining's potential to be the cornerstone of Ontario's new, innovation-oriented green economy. The majority of OMA member companies are operating mines however it also includes associate members such as mines readying for production, contractors, equipment & service providers, consultants, engineers and others.
About the Ontario Prospectors Association
The OPA exists to enhance and promote Ontario's mineral exploration and development community and to foster a healthy mining industry in the Province.
About the Forest Products Association of Canada
FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $69-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2 per cent of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in over 600 communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs, and 1 million indirect jobs across the country. The forest products sector is a world leader in sustainable forest management; we are a critical partner in the fight against climate change and have invested 1.5 billion dollars in clean technology in the last five years. Visit www.fpac.ca for more information.
About EACOM Timber Corporation
EACOM Timber Corporation is a major Eastern Canadian wood products company. Operations include the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of lumber and wood-based value-added products, and the management of forest resources. EACOM owns seven sawmills (five in Ontario, two in Quebec), a remanufacturing facility (Quebec), and an engineered I-joist plant (Ontario) with over 1,100 employees. The Company is committed to investing in strong assets, including healthy forests, advanced technology, and talented people. For more information visit our website at www.EACOM.ca and follow us on Twitter @EACOMcorp.
About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce
With 650 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the "Voice of Business in Timmins" since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.