Annual Report 2011-2012

In the first half of 2011-12, the Ministry’s mandate included the forestry portfolio. This involved leading the business and economic aspects of forestry, including: industrial strategy, forest sector competitiveness programs, Softwood Lumber and wood allocation, pricing and licensing. In October 2011, the forestry portfolio reverted back to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

To support new initiatives and existing ministry programs, the government, through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, projects to have invested over $1.3 billion in the North and in Ontario’s mineral and forestry sectors in 2011-12.

GROWTH PLAN FOR NORTHERN ONTARIO

The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2011, released on March 4, 2011 under the Places to Grow Act, is a strategic plan that guides decision-making and investment planning over the next 25 years.  The Plan aims to strengthen the economy of the North by:

  • diversifying the region’s traditional resource-based industries;
  • stimulating new investment and entrepreneurship;
  • providing more education, training and career opportunities; and
  • nurturing new and emerging sectors with high growth potential.

Along with the Growth Plan’s release on March 4, 2011, early action was announced on several key initiatives:

  • Formation of a Northern Policy Institute including a $5 million investment by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund;
  • Development of a Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy led by the Ministry of Transportation and supported by a $2.2 million investment by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund; and
  • Organization of two regional economic summits to inform the development of two regional economic planning area pilots: a pilot in Northwestern Ontario anchored by the City of Thunder Bay, and a second pilot in Northeastern Ontario anchored by the City of Greater Sudbury.

In 2011-12, the Ministry worked with northern municipalities and associations, Aboriginal communities and organizations, Francophone organizations, business and industry, the research and education sectors and other non-government organizations to advance the Growth Plan’s implementation. 

NORTHERN INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICITY RATE PROGRAM

On March 25, 2010, the government announced the creation of the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) Program to assist Northern Ontario’s largest industrial electrical consumers (forestry, mining and manufacturing) develop energy efficiency and sustainability programs.  The NIER Program was launched in September 2010 and operated over the fiscal years 2010-11, 2011-12 with an average investment of $150M in each fiscal year for electricity relief.

The program offers eligible participants a rebate of $0.02 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for companies that commit to electricity efficiency and sustainability plans.  The objective of the NIER Program is to assist Northern Ontario’s largest industrial electricity consumers develop and implement long-term efficiency and sustainability measures.  As an incentive program, the NIER Program is intended to provide a bridge for participants to achieve greater electricity efficiency by committing to the development and implementation of an Energy Management Plan (EMP).

For 2011-12, a total of $121,300,437 is expected to be disbursed based on disbursements to date and forecasted fourth quarter consumption. There are currently 15 companies representing 24 facilities participating in the program.

The program will continue in 2012-13 (ending March 31, 2013) with an average investment of $150 million for electricity price relief.

NORTHERN HIGHWAYS AND WINTER ROADS

For 2011-12, the ministry invested approximately $618 million in northern highway rehabilitation and expansion to improve road safety, quality of life for northerners and spur economic development.  Highlights include:

  • About $218 million for system Expansion (four-laning) and Safety Initiative projects.
  • About $400 million for system Rehabilitation, including an additional $44 million for bridge needs.
  • Work continued on Highway 11 and 69 four-laning as did the multi-year Safety Initiatives program (passing lanes, intersection improvements, illumination) on Highways 11 and 17 across the North.
  • The government committed to complete the four-laning of Highway 11 by 2012 and the four-laning of Highway 69 by 2017.
  • Ten contracts have been initiated on Highway 11 with a value of $540 million.  All of the remaining 41 km of highway are now under construction and on target for completion in 2012. 
  • Eleven contracts have been initiated on Highway 69 south of Sudbury, with a total value of over $600 million.  

Through the Winter Roads Program, residents of 31 remote communities in the Far North have more economical and safe access to services and supplies via the 3,000 kilometre winter roads network.  The ministry invested $4.725 million in the construction of the winter road system in 2011-12, and has invested over $31 million in construction and maintenance costs on the network since 2004-05.

NORTHERN ONTARIO HERITAGE FUND CORPORATION

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) continues to be an important economic development tool throughout the North.  The NOHFC’s ongoing partnership with communities, businesses, entrepreneurs and youth across Northern Ontario spurs job creation and economic growth in many communities.
Since October 2003 the NOHFC has approved over $720 million toward more than 4,400 projects, leveraging approximately $2.4 billion from other funding sources. This support is helping create or sustain almost 18,000 jobs and co-op placements across the North.

With a budget of $100 million in 2011-12, the NOHFC supported many key initiatives through its programs.  Since the start of the new mandate in January 2005, significant investments have been made, including:

  • • Over $258 million invested in local community infrastructure development and enhancement projects through the NOHFC’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program;
  • • Over $46.9 million approved through the Youth Internship and Co-Op Program.  This helped create over 2,000 internships and co-op placements which span the entire North, including Far North remote communities;
  • • Approximately $9.4 million invested under the Young Entrepreneur Program to over 414 businesses across the North;
  • • Approximately $153 million invested through the Enterprises North Job Creation Program aimed at creating jobs and positioning small and medium-sized businesses in the North for success;
  • • Over $140 million invested through the Emerging Technology Program.  These investments have provided key support for the emerging film, animation, and biotechnology sectors, while also expanding broadband and cellular service capacity in the North;
  • • Over $15.9 million has been invested since May 2009 through the Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program. The NOHFC has supported 322 new business start-ups across Northern Ontario.  
  • • Since 2003, the government has invested over $63 million in Aboriginal communities through NOHFC programs, including Telehealth Services expansion, waterfront development, cultural attractions and broadband internet and cellular expansions projects including project in the Far North.

The Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program and the enhancements to the Enterprises North Job Creation and Private Sector Emerging Technology Programs, announced in May 2009, have been successful in assisting Northern businesses.  Since the announcement, the Northern Ontario Entrepreneur Program has exceeded expectations and the Enterprises North and Emerging Technology Programs have seen dramatic increases in uptake by Northern businesses and are helping to create jobs and prosperity throughout the North. In 2012-13, the NOHFC will continue to build on these achievements with its continued budget of $100M.

NORTHERN ONTARIO INVESTMENT AND TRADE

The ministry promotes Northern Ontario to the world by assisting Northern Ontario companies to grow and expand their business globally though collaborative international marketing, sales support services and lead generation. By working closely with companies and associations, the ministry increases direct trade, business expansion and foreign direct investment to the benefit of Northern Ontario. Other support services include assistive programs like the Mining Supplies and Services Export Assistance (MSSEA) Program.

Sector priorities include forestry related bio-fuels and chemicals, resource based advanced manufacturing, ICT and business support services and mining and related supplies and services. By focusing on sectors that have the best opportunity to attract foreign direct investment and help Northern Ontario businesses grow and create employment, the ministry proactively identifies and promotes the benefits of growing businesses and/or establishing businesses in Northern Ontario.

Northern Ontario investment and trade opportunities continue to be serviced through targeted calls on foreign investors whose strategic direction is a “fit” with Northern Ontario and by promoting the capabilities and location advantages of Northern Ontario.

The MSSEA Program completed year 2 of a 3 year program. The program is intended to help Northern Ontario mining supply and services companies enter new global markets and increase and diversify their revenue streams through Introductory Export Readiness Seminars; One-on-One Consultation; In-Market Mentorship; Private Sector Export Marketing Assistance; Tradeshows; and Sector Promotion and Awareness. 60 companies benefitted from MSSEA support programs over the past year.

At the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual conference in March 2012, Minister Bartolucci announced that the MSSEA Program would be providing the mineral sector with its own unique identity and using it to drive a direct international marketing campaign. A new catchphrase was developed to capture the sector’s unmatched expertise in all facets of mining -- “Mining Is At Our Core.” Ontario’s mining supply and services sector is a world leader in high-tech solutions in all aspects of the industry, capabilities developed over more than a century of mineral development in some of the most challenging conditions in the world.

A broad information package highlighting Ontario’s mining services and supply sector has been sent to more than 300 international buyers in over 15 countries. It contains a Universal Serial Bus (USB) computer drive which conveniently and comprehensively describes the many products and services offered by the sector.  Moreover, the USB automatically directs buyers to a new website developed by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

The website showcases the mining supply and services sector and it will compel international buyers to connect directly to specific Ontario companies. With this in mind, about 100 northern companies will be profiled on the website initially. Each company will have a dedicated page outlining its products and linking to their own websites.

Thirty International Business Development Representatives have been established to work with Ministry staff to represent Northern Ontario’s strategic sector opportunities abroad. A total of 15 domestic and international trade and investment marketing events were attended.

Ministry activities contributed to the following results in 2011-12.

  • 177 scheduled corporate calls completed
  • 91 new investment and trade leads were generated
  • 30 Ontario companies participated in 6 outbound international trade missions
  • 3 incoming international trade missions with representatives from Chile, Brazil and Mexico
  • 1 international media tour
  • Arranged and completed over 120 business to business meetings in foreign markets
  • $713.15M in new investment in Northern Ontario
  • $33M in closed trade sales reported
  • 1,135 new jobs created as a result of both trade and investment

By strategically identifying and matching investment opportunities in the North with national and international companies, the ministry has contributed to the economic prosperity of the region.

This last year saw the Mining Memorandum of Understanding between Ontario and India make significant progress towards the creation of a centre of mining excellence in India with the cooperation of four Ontario Universities. India and Ontario worked closely to increase trade and investment between the two jurisdictions.

ONTARIO NORTHLAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION (ONTC)

The ministry approved over $103 million of capital and operating support in 2011-12 to the ONTC for the delivery of passenger transportation services and its commercial rail capital program across the Northeast.

Rail Services

In support of economic development and prosperity in the North, ONTC continued to partner with regional tourism groups and communities to deliver the Polar Bear Express and Dream Catcher Express.

ONTC remains committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of its rail infrastructure, and in 2011-12 invested $21.6 million in capital projects including installing new and relay rail; installing new railway ties; surfacing track; maintaining and upgrading bridges and culverts and maintaining stations.

Divestment

On March 23, 2012 the Government announced the decision to divest all operations of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. While all of ONTC’s operations will be tendered for sale, the Ontario government has committed to continuing key transportation services including the Polar Bear Express train service between Cochrane and Moosonee as well as motor coach services to communities served only by the ONTC.

The government has also dissolved the current ONTC Board and replaced it with a new Board. The mandate of the new ONTC Board will focus on: developing a new model to provide support for essential transportation services; cancelling the Northlander train service and replacing it with bus service; and tendering all assets of the corporation to the private sector.

OWEN SOUND TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (OSTC)

The M.S. Chi Cheemaun ferry service operates seasonally between South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula.  In 2011-12 it transported over 180,000 passengers per year.  The Ministry provided OSTC with $1 million in operating assistance for the service.

NORTHERN ONTARIO GROW BONDS

The five-year Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Pilot Program raised nearly $13 million through the sale of Grow Bonds.  The proceeds from the bond issuance were used to provide loans to northern businesses.  The bonds matured on April 11, 2010.  Bonds are being repaid as bonds are surrendered.  

In December 2009, in preparation for the wind-up of the pilot program, and the repayment of the bonds, the Grow Bonds loan portfolio was transferred to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

The Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Corporation and its board will remain in place until the wind-up of the Corporation’s business affairs is complete by May 1, 2012 at which time the Corporation will be dissolved.

As the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Program was a pilot project, an initial review was undertaken and a full evaluation of the program was completed.  The findings from the evaluation will assist in the development of other government programs.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN PREVENTION INITIATIVE PROGRAM

The Violence Against Women Prevention Initiative (VAWPI) Program in Northern Ontario supports projects and initiatives that seek to safeguard women and children from domestic violence.
In 2011-12, the VAWPI program was realigned with MCSS, MAG and OWD.  Through these ministries and OWD, additional operating support is available to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres located in Northern Ontario to address domestic violence issues.

SUPPORTING A PROSPEROUS MINERALS SECTOR

In 2011-12, the ministry continued its efforts to implement the Mineral Development Strategy, to attract new mineral investment and facilitate meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal communities and the mining sector.

MINERAL SECTOR HIGHLIGHTS

Ontario continued to be Canada’s leading jurisdiction for the production of non-fuel minerals, and a major player in the world. The province’s mineral production in 2011 was valued at $10.7 billion, with its metal mines generating $7.5 billion for the economy.

Ontario led the country in exploration expenditures in 2011 with $1 billion.  Active mining claim units for 2011 are 326,000, up from a decrease to 312,000 in 2010 but not yet returning to 2008’s record level of 363,000.

Ontario is creating a vibrant, growing diamond cluster. Ontario’s first diamond cutting and polishing facility, located in Sudbury, opened in August 2009 under contract with a private sector service provider. On a yearly basis, the facility is cutting and polishing an estimated $35 million worth of rough stones derived from DeBeers Canada’s Victor mine, located in the James Bay Lowlands, about 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat.

In February 2012, the Ontario government announced the successful proponent and the Ontario Sightholder for the second allocation of Victor diamonds for 2012-2015. This followed a globally competitive selection process wherein Ontario sought candidates who can contribute by the establishment of a financially viable, self-sustaining cutting and polishing facility in Ontario.

THE RING OF FIRE

The “Ring of Fire” initiative refers to one of the most promising development opportunities in Northern Ontario in perhaps a century. Located in Ontario’s Far North, current estimates from one of the companies exploring in the area suggest the potential for decades of chromite production, as well as significant production of nickel, copper and platinum.

Development of the Ring of Fire initiative forms a key pillar of Ontario’s Open Ontario plan, and was recognized in the 2011 Ontario Speech from the Throne and Ontario’s 2011 and 2012 Budgets.  The Ring of Fire represents an unparalleled opportunity to think strategically and plan for development in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

Given the complexities and challenges of such wide-scale development, the Ring of Fire Secretariat is actively engaged in ensuring multi-agency and stakeholder initiatives are undertaken in a coordinated and timely manner.  The Ring of Fire Assistant Deputy Minister continues to work and consult with Aboriginal peoples, Northern Ontarians and the mining industry to encourage responsible and sustainable economic development in the region.

The Ring of Fire Secretariat was successful in negotiating multi-year tri-partite funding agreements with those First Nations potentially impacted by development activities, in partnership with the federal government and industry (Cliffs Natural Resources and Noront Resources Ltd).  These contributions are intended to provide First Nations the capacity necessary to effectively participate in Ring of Fire activities and discussions.

Proposed mining and infrastructure projects within the Ring of Fire are subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).  While there are no provincial environmental assessment requirements for mines, both Cliffs and Noront volunteered to meet the requirements of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).  In 2011, the federal and provincial environmental assessments commenced for both Cliffs Natural Resources’ Black Thor Project and Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest Project. Coordination of the assessment processes is key to successful implementation, ensuring that the environmental processes of both jurisdictions take place concurrently and meet all federal and provincial requirements, including those around Aboriginal consultation.

The Ministry, through the Ring of Fire Secretariat, has the overall lead in the Ring of Fire region and continues to play a coordinating role with respect to infrastructure, economic development, skills and capacity building, environmental assessments and Aboriginal engagement and consultation.

GEOSCIENCE MAPPING

Building on the 2008 Provincial Budget commitment to allocate $20 million over four years toward enhancing geoscience activities to identify economic opportunities across all of Ontario, the Ontario Geological Survey delivered its full complement of geoscience activities. Some highlights include: surveying projects in the Far North, including the Ring of Fire region, delivering of bedrock and surficial geochemical geoscience surveying in support of economic and community development in the near-north and south, an energy-related geoscience initiative to assess the geothermal and unconventional energy potential in the South, a range of detailed groundwater-related and environmental geoscience projects in the South in support of public health and protection of source water inventories. Availability of these geoscience goods and services continues to be an important pillar in the Ministry’s international marketing efforts that have attracted mineral investment into Ontario.

The modern geoscience goods and services continue to provide remote First Nation communities with data and information to support their community-based land-use planning and partnerships in private sector economic activities while informing the ministry’s efforts as the government moves forward with its commitment to protect 225,000 square kilometers of the Boreal Forest.

The Ontario Geological Survey continued to work in partnership with Aboriginal communities, conservation authorities, industry, universities, other Ontario Ministries, municipalities, and the Federal Government to ensure that Ontario’s geoscience knowledge is current, credible, and available to inform the range of Ontario policy priorities.

INVESTMENT MARKETING

The ministry continued building on the success of a new investment and marketing strategy. The addition of sector specific Resource Intelligence now allows the ministry to target national and international investors as well as exploration and mining companies. This new resource tracks exploration and mining companies and their projects throughout the world.  Using this valuable information, over 80 mining and exploration companies were directly identified and targeted at 9 separate marketing events in 2011.

In 2008, a Google Earth-based viewing tool (OGS Earth) was developed by the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) that allows Ontario's geological information be overlain on satellite imagery of the earth’s surface. OGS Earth has dramatically increased access to various data sets, assessment files and OGS publications. This product increases the ease of access and use of Ontario's Geoscience information via the internet to create an effective and competitive tool for attracting investor interest. The OGS continues to add data sets to this tool.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE MINING ACT

One of the most significant measures undertaken to advance Ontario’s status for mineral investment has been the modernization of the Mining Act. The new legislation, which received royal assent in October 2009, is intended to provide greater clarity and certainty to the industry by setting out a clearer framework for the responsible management and sustainable development of the province’s mineral resources. Different sections of the amended Act are being phased in as the various supporting regulations are developed. Phase I of the MAM initiative is complete. The Ministry is currently working on Phase II items and Phase II regulations are targeted for implementation by the summer of 2012. Phase III is targeted for 2013. Once fully implemented, the modernized Mining Act would help ensure Ontario remains one of the best jurisdictions in the world for mineral exploration and mining investment.

Ontario’s modernized Mining Act introduces several changes, including the introduction of a graduated regime of exploration plans and permits, a Mining Act Awareness Program for prospectors, new requirements for carrying out and rehabilitating early exploration activities and supporting significant strides in Aboriginal consultation. MNDM continues to consult extensively with industry stakeholders, First Nations and Métis and non-governmental groups to help develop the modernized Act’s supporting regulations, programs, policies, procedures and information technology solutions. To date, MNDM has carried out more than 80 consultation and information sharing sessions.

In 2010-2011, the Ministry completed work on the Phase I regulations and introduced them in January and April of 2011. The Phase I regulations included a requirement to provide notification of claim staking to surface rights owners, the introduction of a map staking process in southern Ontario and the addition of further criteria for considering requests for withdrawals of Crown mining rights by surface rights owners in Northern Ontario.

In 2011, the Ministry also began developing the Phase II regulations. The proposed regulations continue to reflect the Ministry’s commitment to promoting mineral exploration and development in a manner that recognizes Aboriginal and treaty rights, the rights of private landowners and provides for greater respect for the environment. In March 2011, six regulatory proposals were posted to the Environmental and Regulatory Registries, including proposals for a regime of exploration plans and permits, amendments to mine development/Closure Plans under Part VII of the Mining Act, and allowance for withdrawals/surface rights restrictions for sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance. The Ministry also continues to develop new tools to build Aboriginal capacity by increasing community awareness of exploration and mining methods, economic opportunities associated with mining and the new regulatory regime.

The ministry also continued work under the Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. This program has been successful in eliminating or reducing environmental and physical safety hazards. Since 2003, approximately $60 million has been invested in this program.

ABORIGINAL ENGAGEMENT

The ministry has been working over the past several years to progressively improve relationships and engagement processes with Aboriginal peoples through enhanced information sharing and communication projects.

Since 2003, the government has invested over $63 million in Aboriginal communities through NOHFC programs, including Telehealth Services expansion, waterfront development and cultural attractions.

This includes investments such as $637,000 to train 120 Aboriginal youth in Red Lake for the Ontario Common Core Hard Rock Mining certificate. These investments are helping facilitate economic agreements between First Nations and the minerals sector, such as the Impact Benefit Agreement signed by DeBeers and Attawapiskat First Nation.

The ministry is also aware of more than 90 similar agreements that have been signed between First Nations and industry since 1999, at the early exploration stage right through to the extraction phases of the mining sequence. 

Through the ministry’s Aboriginal Relations Branch, in 2011-12 the ministry continued its efforts to support First Nations and Métis participation in the mineral sector. The ministry has entered into formal funding agreements with a number of Aboriginal organizations to support their capacity development to engage with the mineral industry, including agreements with the Union of Ontario Indians, Grand Council Treaty 3, the Algonquins of Ontario, the Matawa Tribal Council, the Mushkegowuk Council and the Métis Nation of Ontario. The agreements enabled these Aboriginal organizations to develop their capacities in a number of ways which include hiring mineral advisors and coordinators, obtaining basic skill training in GIS and values mapping, the development of information sharing protocols and developing interim guidelines for community level engagement with the mineral industry.  The ministry has also partnered with the Ministry of Natural Resources on a number of agreements that support each ministry’s mandates.

In some of the above mentioned agreements, the ministry has established technical tables with Aboriginal organizations that allow for the exchange of information, the diffusion of on the ground issues and in some case, the withdrawal of Sites of Aboriginal Cultural Significance.

In addition to promoting capacity development, the ministry supported First Nations and Métis participation in numerous mineral sector educational forums including the Canadian Aboriginal Mineral Association and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

FORESTRY

As the October 2011 realignment returned the forestry portfolio to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), complete information regarding forestry initiatives will reside within that ministry.

However, two important initiatives were completed during the portion of 2011-12 that forestry fell under the purview of MNDM (then MNDMF):

Provincial Wood Supply Competitive Process

The Provincial Wood Supply Competitive Process was launched in 2009 to put Ontario’s wood back to work and to attract new investment in the forest sector, support new and innovative ventures to stimulate Ontario’s economy and build an industry of top performers – both existing and new.

115 submissions were received and subsequently evaluated against pre-established criteria such as financing, economic viability, operating feasibility, wood supply, Aboriginal benefits, management experience, and social, economic and environmental benefits.  The Competitive Process was overseen by an independent Fairness Commissioner and followed a rigorous evaluation and selection process. This has helped ensure all activities were carried out with fairness, openness, transparency, and in compliance with the process set out in November 2009.

The Competitive process was completed in 2011. Ontario issued 46 offers.  As forestry responsibilities once again fall under the purview of the Ministry of Natural Resources, further information can be obtained from the MNR.

Ontario Wood: The Natural Choice

On July 7, 2011, the Ontario government unveiled a new Ontario wood logo. This was a direct way of helping consumers to quickly and easily identify Ontario wood products and allowing them to preferentially buy these products to support Ontario’s economy.