MNRF roundtable tour aims for economic growth in forestry

Representatives of the Government of Ontario will be touring the Northeast to develop a strategy for economic growth within the forestry sector.

Joshua Santos

Representatives of the Government of Ontario will be touring the Northeast to develop a strategy for economic growth within the forestry sector.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will be hosting a number of roundtable discussions across the province to gather feedback. They begin their tour in November.

The decision has been lauded by the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities.

“FONOM is pleased with Ontario’s recent announcement of the government’s plan to develop a provincial forestry strategy to reduce red tape and create an environment that supports growth and competitiveness within the sector,” the association stated in a release.

“We thank the Minister and his government for taking on this initiative to ensure the forest sector remains competitive. FONOM looks forward to providing input throughout the consultation process,” stated Coun. Danny Whalen of Temiskaming Shores who has replaced outgoing Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek as FONOM president. “FONOM past-president and mayor of Kapuskasing, Al Spacek, will be the FONOM representative participating in this initiative … We look forward to being part of the discussion.”

Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said, “We want to ensure the forestry sector is going to be driven by a long-term vision of growth and be sustainable for communities across the province.

“For the last 15 years the Liberal government ignored this sector and forestry itself lost 51% of its jobs. We’re going to be opening up Ontario for business. The Provincial Conservative government is going to reduce red tape and barriers so the industry is going to be able to create jobs and prosperity for northern and eastern Ontario.”

Scheduled meetings include stops next year in Kapuskasing on Wednesday, Feb. 6, Timmins on Friday, May 3 and Hearst on Friday, May 17.

Dates and locations are subject to change.

“We’re going to be listening to the forestry industry, municipalities and Indigenous communities. We want to know what barriers and red tape are in place and what needs to be in a forestry strategy so that we’re able to create jobs and prosperity for the entire province,” said Yurek.

Ontario’s forestry industry is an important driver of the province’s economy, generating more than $15 billion in revenues and supporting 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in 260 communities across the province, according to a Government of Ontario news release.

“Many of the different industries throughout this province have been neglected by the previous liberal government. Having a prosperous forestry industry not only creates jobs in northern or eastern Ontario but the offshoots of that strong industry benefit the province as a whole,” said Yurek.

Yurek said they will sit down and put together a strategy for the province to create jobs, create prosperity, remove red tape and barriers in the forestry industry but at the same time ensure there’s safety in the environment and social structures in this province after they consult with many different municipalities across the province.

For more information, you can visit www.ontario.ca/forestrystrategy. You can also email the MNRF with any comments, questions or concerns at forestrystrategy@ontario.ca.