Annual Report 2002-2004

As the lead ministry for the North, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry works to make northern Ontario and the provincial minerals sector strong, healthy and prosperous.

The ministry provides northerners with access to government, programs and services, and promotes a healthy business climate that encourages investment in Ontario.

It ensures northern input in the development of government policies and programs. By providing a northern perspective, the ministry supports provincial initiatives in the North and addresses unique northern circumstances. Its 31 Northern Development Offices and 31 Government Information Centres (GICs) provide pan-northern access to programs and services, while delivering numerous programs and services with, and on behalf of, partner ministries.

Economic development professionals specializing in forest products, mining, business and industry, biotechnology, manufacturing, telecommunications, agriculture, tourism, trade and investment marketing, help municipalities, First Nations and businesses attract investment, pursue business opportunities and diversify local economies.

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), which is chaired by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, provides critical financial assistance to support business development, capital and infrastructure investment, and job creation in Northern Ontario communities.

The ministry co-ordinates essential provincial investment in the North's transportation, telecommunications and public infrastructure through the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) and the Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC).

Its Northern Transportation Program works with other ministries to expand and maintain the northern highways system, roads in unincorporated areas, resource access roads and winter roads.

To enhance mineral sector competitiveness, the ministry manages Ontario's mining lands, attracts investment and supports mineral development. It administers the Ontario Mining Act to ensure fair access to Crown mineral rights and equitable management of mining lands.

The Ontario Geological Survey (OGS), which delivers a province-wide mandate through its Sudbury headquarters and 10 regional Resident Geologist offices, provides geoscience information and services that foster the vibrant mineral sector and help Ontario maintain its standing as a world geoscience leader.

It also provides strategic geoscience baseline information required to identify Ontario’s groundwater aquifers, potential for non-renewable energy and sources of quality construction mineral resources and to support government’s groundwater protection priorities. This geoscience information also facilitates informed land-use planning decisions, which leads to healthy, sustainable community development.

The ministry’s Mineral Development and Rehabilitation of Mining Lands Program works with partner ministries and federal departments to promote safe, sound and sustainable use of Ontario’s mining lands.



The NOHFC continued to support infrastructure, tourism, telecommunications, strategic partnerships and community foundations initiatives. Later in 2003-2004, a new emphasis was placed on economic development and job creation. The NOHFC invested $85.2 million in 2003-2004.


More than $205 million was invested through the Northern Highways Program in 2003-2004, which supported ongoing four-laning projects on Highways 11, 69 and 17. One new contract was awarded for a six km section of Highway 11 from Katrine to Emsdale.

In November 2003, Canada and Ontario signed the joint federal-provincial Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (SHIP) agreement. Through SHIP, both levels of government are to share equally in the costs of designated projects located on the National Highway System.


The ministry followed through on its Service Improvement Strategy to bring about enhancements in marine and bus services.

The Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited entered its second year as a separate operational enterprise agency and continues to enhance the services of the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun in support of tourism in northern Ontario.

The government declined CN Rail’s proposal to purchase ONTC rail assets. It continued to provide the necessary financial support while it worked with the ONTC board to achieve service improvements and operational efficiencies.


Forty-seven northern projects representing an estimated $88 million in capital costs were approved under Option 1 of the Ontario Small Town and Rural Development (OSTAR) Infrastructure program. An additional 20 northern projects, with an estimated total approved capital cost of over $90 million, were approved under Option 2, which allows communities to address health and safety issues.

Funding was approved for 99 northern projects, representing a commitment of more than $27 million, under the government’s $300 million Sports, Culture and Tourism Partnerships (SCTP) initiative.


Ontario’s exploration spending in 2003 was approximately $219 million.

The ministry introduced enhanced geoscience and mining lands products, and initiated movement toward a stronger mining cluster in Ontario. In November 2003, the government created the Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council.

The ministry also continued its program of mine site cleanup and rehabilitation through the Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program.

 Ministry Expenditures ($ Million)
Staff Stregnth (as of Mar 31, 2004)493.6


A new Far North Assistance Program was introduced under the NOHFC. Investments totaling $103 million continued to focus on northern development opportunities in infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism, strategic partnerships and community foundations.


More than $262 million was invested through the Northern Highways Program including work on four-laning Highway 69 south of Parry Sound, opening a four-km section of Highway 69 south of Parry Sound, and on Highway 11, opening the eight-km Trout Creek Bypass and a 13-km section between Melissa and Emsdale.


The ministry continued to implement the Service Improvement Strategy by initiating a two-phase strategy that involved exploring divestiture options for ONTelcom, reorganizing marine operations and enhancing motor coach and train services.

In April 2002, the Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited (OSTC), formerly a wholly owned ONTC subsidiary, became a separate operational enterprise agency.


Ministry staff consulted with 75 communities on the government's Ontario Small Town and Rural (OSTAR) Development, assisted 151 communities and organizations under the Sports, Culture and Tourism Partnerships (SCTP) and helped Sudbury ($15 million) and Thunder Bay ($11 million) develop successful Millennium Partnership proposals.


Ontario’s exploration spending in 2002 was approximately $139 million. Key initiatives included completion of the Operation Treasure Hunt geoscience mapping project, a $3.5 million NOHFC investment in a geoscience mapping project in the Lake Nipigon region and new projects under the Ontario Mineral Exploration Technologies Program.

 Ministry Expenditures ($ Million)
Staff Stregnth (as of Mar 31, 2003)487.3