Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday July 2 2015
12:35 PM EDT
2014-05-01 at 18:02

Budget concern

Mayor Keith Hobbs says making Ring of Fire infrastructure money contingent on a matching federal partnership is concerning for the future of the mining development.
Mayor Keith Hobbs says making Ring of Fire infrastructure money contingent on a matching federal partnership is concerning for the future of the mining development.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Mayor Keith Hobbs has deep concerns that $1 billion earmarked for Ring of Fire infrastructure now appears to be contingent on matching federal funds.

Hobbs, who watched the budget being delivered on television at his city hall office Thursday, said his government sources have told him that means the money will have to be drawn from the $14-billion Building Canada fund.

When announcing the $1 billion investment last week, a trio of provincial ministers made no mention of the money being contingent on federal participation, and vehemently said they wanted Ottawa to fund its share of the estimated $2.2 billion project as a standalone entity as they’ve done elsewhere in Canada.

“It is a bit of a concern after speaking to some people in the federal government yesterday,” Hobbs said. “Apparently their stance is they’ve already contributed $14 billion, or earmarked $14 billion ... with the Build Canada fund and the provincial government has to take out of that fund for matching dollars.”

However, Liberal Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro was adamant the money is not contingent on the federal government stepping up to the table, despite the word being used in budget documents.

“Our money is not at peril. Our money is there,” said Mauro, reiterating the province needs help.

“Yes, we need the federal government to be a part of this.”

Hobbs said looks like political gamesmanship being played between Ottawa and Toronto. But it’s Northern Ontario communities that are getting caught in the crosshair.

Hobbs said forcing Ontarians to draw from the Building Canada fund would have trickle-down effects elsewhere.

“We in the north still have a crumbling infrastructure, probably worse than southern Ontario communities. It’s just going to be a matter of wait and see to see where those dollars are spent,” the mayor said.

Mauro said the $130-billion budget, which comes with an $11.3-billion deficit, has plenty to offer northerners.

He pointed to the $100-million rural infrastructure fund, which Finance Minister Charles Sousa has made permanent going forward.
“Communities in my riding, the small ones, will really benefit from this,” he said.

Continued four-laning of the Trans-Canada between Thunder Bay and Nipigon and an additional $14-billion infrastructure fund set aside by the province – part of a $130-billion, 10-year promise – are also part of the plan, which must still garner approval in the legislature or the minority Liberal government could fall.

Mauro also took issue with Hobbs’ concerns about a mandatory Ontario pension plan, which the mayor worried might be too expensive for municipalities and businesses.

Mauro said the province has been hounding Ottawa to reform the Canada Pension Plan, to no avail.

“The average that people get (annually) on CPP is $6,800 and the vast majority of people don’t have an employee pension plan.”
Conservative candidate Harold Wilson, who hopes to challenge Mauro in a spring election in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said the government’s spend-heavy plan simply isn’t affordable or sustainable.

"Ontario needs a government that has a plan to reduce spending, eliminate excessive red tape, address ever-higher energy rates, create jobs, and especially the courage to implement it," Wilson said in a release.

"This continuation of the McGuinty/Wynne plan won't do it.  In fact, now they are increasing both taxes and the deficit at the same time.  This drives employers away."

Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has said all along he won’t support the budget, leaving the fate of Premier Kathleen Wynne's government in the hands of NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who isn’t expected to comment on the budget and whether or not she'll support it until Friday.

Mauro said he won’t speculate on what Horwath might do.

“I don’t know. I truly don’t know,” he said.

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TBDR says:
Only in Thunder Bay could we turn a discussion about Provincial dollars and Federal matching program, into the mayor's fault. Sometimes I feel like we live on Planet Stupid around here.
5/2/2014 2:04:16 PM
The Beaver..... says:
Tudor let me put it to you in a simple way. Gas plant scandal Ornge scandal
E health scandal.
Computer Drive scrubbing.
The huge Hydro mismanagement and the foul-up of the Green program.
The NDP had no choice but to pull the plug on the Liberals.
5/2/2014 1:08:13 PM
tudor says:
Mr. Dunick I apologize in advance for telling you how to do your job. Then carry the story forward. Mayor Hobbs, will you be pressing the Federal Government to make the Ring of Fire an economic priority separate from this build ontario fund. Every province is likely getting those kinds of funds. The tar sands are not being developed out of this fund are they. Then ask the Federal Gov't what their plan is.

We have been virtually ignored by Ottawa since Mr. Harper came to power. I do not recall our "fighting Mayor" criticizing the Prime Minister, our MP's or anyone else in Ottawa but he never fails to feel concerned about the province.

There are 3 levels of government in this country. One is trying to make T.Bay better. One keeps asking for more and spends uncontrollably, one barely knows we are here, and one seems to sometimes be the forgotten one, the one actually doing all the work. How does the NDP vote against this budget and claim they care about the north.
5/2/2014 6:34:31 AM
user says:
if I were a betting man, I'd say whoever writes stories for this website, always makes spelling mistakes. Seriously, it's a daily occurrence. Doesn't anyone check anymore?
5/2/2014 5:23:15 AM
Leith Dunick says:
We're trying to clear this up once and for all. On Monday Michael Gravelle, Bill Mauro and David Orazietti said the money wasn't contingent, but stressed they wanted the feds to step up to the plate.

Today, while watching the budget at the mayor's office, Dennis Ward and I went through what was available online and as was stated above, it said the government was willing to put the money but it was contingent on the federal government matching the funds.

That's what the mayor was reacting to. Back at the office, after the budget was delivered, I spoke with Mr. Mauro and asked for clarification. He said the money isn't at peril and isn't contingent on federal support. But he reiterated it's important for the feds to come to the table.

Michael Gravelle, later via Twitter, backed up Mr. Mauro's statements.

If I was a betting man, I'd say whoever wrote the budget highlights made a poor choice of words.
5/2/2014 1:10:05 AM
chezhank says:

“The $1 billion is contingent on Ottawa matching the funds. The money will flow once they come to the table,” a spokesperson in Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa’s office confirmed in an email Monday after the announcement was made in Thunder Bay.

Clarity...for those of us who send emails!

henry wojak
mayor in waiting!
5/2/2014 5:12:22 AM
Leith Dunick says:
Thanks Henry, we asked the question of two (really three) cabinet ministers and reported what we were told.
5/2/2014 12:32:01 PM
chezhank says:
@Leith Dunick
You are welcome!
Never ask people who work there,they seldom know!
5/2/2014 9:59:22 PM
mcnews says:
@mikethunderbay The budget document is released at 4pm sharp. The speech given by Sousa only touches on highlights of what is in it. And the Liberals unveiled most of it in the run up to today. Left out of the billion dollar announcement in Thunder Bay this past week were two very key words in the actual budget..."Willing" and "Contingent" You should try giving the document a read before commenting.

"The Province is willing to commit up to $1 billion towards infrastructure development, contingent on matching investment by the federal government."
5/1/2014 11:23:44 PM
trevor99 says:
I think that Mike above there made an incredible observations. Hobbs is already making comments about the budget before the Minister has finished.

He must have spoken to someone who gave him this information beforehand so he had something to say to the media. Why didn't he call Mr. Mauro yesterday, the day before, or ask him on the day of the announcement.

Ontario doesn't decide the money. the initial position of the FEDS is that they are giving Ontario X amount of dollars and Ontario can decide what to do with it. It seems the Ring of Fire is not quite as important to Canada as the Tar sands are politically to the reelection chances of the Federal Government.

As for Hobbs. I have to wonder where this guy formulates his opinions.

He is so anxious to get in front of the camera for everything that he then says whatever thought is in his head.

I loved the one shortly after the election when he realized he was only one vote on council so it was hard for him to make changes.

5/1/2014 9:27:46 PM
bay of blunders says:
Leith Dunick, in the second paragraph you noted "the $14-million Building Canada fund." That should be 14 billion.

Thanks for the great article and update on the situation.
Let's hope both levels of government don't let the north down.

Harper needs to provide to northern ontario what they have for alberta and quebec for example. It's northern ontario's time to shine.

Cool story bro!
5/1/2014 7:51:31 PM
musicferret says:
Absent from this story: the fact that the budget may not pass, making everything else irrelevant.
5/1/2014 6:57:01 PM
musicferret says:
It would appear that is exactly what has happened.
5/2/2014 12:26:54 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Just an FYI, it was in the story, toward the bottom.
5/2/2014 12:28:12 PM
common cents says:
Mr. Wilson
more jobs?
you and your PC party wan more lower paying jobs you mean and more corporate tax cuts so the rich get richer and the average Joe makes less.

Is what your really saying.

5/1/2014 6:56:53 PM
chezhank says:
“Our money is not at peril. Our money is there,” said Mauro, reiterating the province needs help. “Yes, we need the federal government to be a part of this.” Well the Federal Government is giving the province of Ontario $2.7 Billion over 10 years. It is at the discretion of the Ontario government if they want to use $1.0 billion of that money for a "yellow brick road". The ball is in the provinces court!
5/1/2014 6:48:02 PM
tudor says:
only hobbs could turn a good news story into a concern. Mr. Conservative, why not ask your friends in Ottawa to fund the money for ring of fire. instead they speak about how they have provided training to those living on reserves. Wow. Ask your friend Tim Hudak to commit the 1 billion to the Ring of Fire. I haven't heard those words. Ask Stephen what has he done here in our region since he become Prime Minister. This Mayor clown of ours wants to debate the merits of 1 billion. He yells for more. He always yells for more yet he cannot get his own house in order.

I vote PC about 70% of the time but Hobbs can make me a permanent Liberal just by the constant shooting off of his mouth.

Mr. Mayor, the ontario gov't just announced billions more for the north. Are you happy yet, or are you going to cry because they forgot the money for your tea.

Someone credible, please run against this clown. Anyone

I'd love to see him in a debate with Mr. Mauro. He'd last about 2 minutes. A joke.
5/1/2014 6:34:30 PM
chezhank says:
@tudor Your prayers have been answered look up!
5/1/2014 7:04:49 PM
SadButTrue says:
He said someone credible.
5/2/2014 8:18:53 AM
chezhank says:
@SadButTrue Exactly!
5/2/2014 9:33:38 AM
progress now says:
Interesting point:

"Mr. Conservative, why not ask your friends in Ottawa to fund the money for ring of fire".

One might have the impression Hobbs is speaking in his capacity as mayor, but he is a pretty strong conservative. Councillors may be interviewed and comment because they are on council, but many are strong members of political parties. What is the motivation for their comments?

The city is not served well by this nonsense.
5/1/2014 9:49:07 PM
chezhank says:
Happy May Day!

Hobbs said. “Apparently their stance is they’ve already contributed $14 billion, or earmarked $14 billion for the province with the Build Canada fund and the provincial government has to take out of that fund for matching dollars.”

I only wish it was $14 billion for the province!
Try $2.7 billion for Ontario over 10 years.

henry wojak
mayor in waiting
5/1/2014 6:33:37 PM
mikethunderbay says:
Does it seem strange to anyone else that Hobbs says his gov't sources have told him the matching federal funding would have to come from the Building Canada Fund so soon after the budget was announced....wait based on the picture accompyning this article Minister Sousa was still delivering the budget. I guess the beginning of the article stating Hobbs watched the budget should be amended to say he watched some of the budget and then commented on it. Perhaps comments should be reserved until he has actually read the document, and as is said in the article the funding is not contingent on the feds stepping up to the table because anyone who's been paying attention knows that feds have been essentially absent from northern ontario for last decade+. I see more investment for Northern Ontario, looking forward to all the complaints. Does no one actually remember the years of the conservative gov't and the complete lack of gov't investment in NOnt???
5/1/2014 6:29:09 PM
Leith Dunick says:
We watched the majority of the budget speech, plus had access to the highlight packages online, and focused on a couple of areas. We'll be doing more follow-up on Friday. Cigarettes are going up 1.5 cents apiece for you smokers out there.
5/2/2014 1:14:53 AM
bttnk says:
Of course tobacco is going up in cost. The province is dependent on tobacco tax to the tune of over $1.1 billion annually. With tax revenue from smokes decreasing by approximately 1.5% a year, the government is forced to increase the price to partially off-set.

What does this mean? The province doesn't really want you to quit your habit.
5/2/2014 1:30:10 PM
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