THUNDER BAY -- Ontario’s premier made a $4-million visit to the city Wednesday.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s recent trip to Northwestern Ontario was her first since winning a majority government in the June election and on Wednesday, her regional visit brought her to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre where she announced a $4 million investment for the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute.
The money, which comes from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, will fund research projects and purchase equipment for early detection and cancer treatment.
“It will continue to enhance Thunder Bay’s reputation and role as a centre for advanced medical research and it will improve health care in Northwestern Ontario,” Wynne said during the news conference.
Wynne said it’s important to recognize there is world-class research and health care happening in the city.
“The research institute is drawing people from around the world whether it’s students, whether it’s practitioners, whether it’s engineers who are very much on the cutting edge of research,” she said.
“This $4-million investment that will help create 29 high-skilled jobs, is more than just that; it really is an enhancement of the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute that had done so much already.”
The funding is vital to the Research Institute's sustainability, especially for the next three years, said Roxanne Deslauriers, acting CEO of the Research Institute and vice-president of research for the Health Sciences Centre.
It will also help develop the cyclotron project through the creation of isotopes that will be used medically in Thunder Bay.
Local creation of isotopes eliminates the need to bring them in from other regions and allows for more consistent patient care, said Deslauriers.
“It will also enable us to create a number of isotopes that will enable us to develop new drugs for specific types of cancer, for instance. And it will enable us to hire personnel that will go on to help make a business out of the cyclotron that will bring revenue to Thunder Bay and region,” she said.
Presently the Research Institute employs about 60 people but that number can double because researchers often have students and other people working on projects that are funded through other sources, said Deslauriers.
The cyclotron is expected to be installed at the hospital’s medical sciences building in September.