Business leaders call for Ontario natural resources strategy
May 28, 2018 - 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 today 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,” said Rocco Rossi, Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer. “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.”
The need to develop this strategy was the primary recommendation that emerged from today’s 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.
“These partners coming together demonstrates a willingness across sectors to collaborate with the government on a growth strategy,” said Kevin Edgson, president and chief executive officer of EACOM Timber Corporation. “We have made long-term investments in Northern Ontario and are keen to grow the business. Working forests are part of Ontario’s future.”
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.
“Today, 52 per cent of all Canada’s exports come from our natural resources sector — energy, mining, forestry, and agriculture,” said Derek Nighbor, president and chief executive officer of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “All our industries are transforming in their own ways to keep pace in this rapidly changing global economy.”
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,” said JP Gladu, president and chief executive officer 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,” said Timmins Mayor Steve Black. “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.”
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.