Annual Report 2007-2008

Since October 2003, over 9,800 jobs are being created or sustained in the North as a result of approximately 1500 projects to which the NOHFC committed more than $332 million. These investments have leveraged another $1 billion from project partners.

In 2007-08, NOHFC continued to support a number of key initiatives through its programs. Since the start of the new mandate in January 2005, significant investments have been made, including:

  • Over $103 million has been invested in local community infrastructure development and enhancement projects through the NOHFC’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program;

  • Over $17 million has been approved through the Youth Internship and Co-Op Program of the NOHFC. This helped create over 800 internships and co-op placements which span the entire North, including Far North remote communities;

  • Over $3.7 million has been invested under the Young Entrepreneur Program to over 160 businesses across the North;

  • Over $63 million was invested through the Emerging Technology Program. These investments have provided key support for the emerging film, animation, and biotechnology sector, while also expanding broadband and cellular service capacity in the North;

  • Since 2003, the government has invested over $22 million in Aboriginal communities through NOHFC programs, including Telehealth Services expansion, waterfront development and cultural attractions.


The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, together with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal, launched development of a Growth Plan for Northern Ontario in May 2007. This is the second plan to be developed under the Places to Grow Act. The purpose of the northern plan is to align provincial policies and investments strategically to support sustainable economic and population growth. A Ministers’ table has been established to facilitate the coordination of provincial government implementation. Consultations were initiated in 2007-08 and will continue during the coming year.


Representing the Northwest, Northeast, major cities and the Far North, the Northern Development Councils (NDCs) are a direct link for northerners to the government. Since their inception in 2005, the NDCs have assisted the government on several initiatives including Ontario’s Mineral Development Strategy, the GO North Investor Program and the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Pilot Program.

In Spring 2007, the NDCs examined economic growth strategies to establish and grow business in Northern Ontario. From March 8 to April 22, 2007, councils invited northern input through an online survey, 40 dialogue sessions held in 35 Northern Ontario communities and other channels. More than 700 northerners participated. Based on this input, the councils submitted recommendations in August 2007 on opportunities to grow and strengthen business in Northern Ontario. This input is being reviewed and will be valuable to the development of a Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.


Launched in February 2005, the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Pilot Program is a Northern Prosperity Plan initiative with two components -- the sale of bonds to northerners and a business loan program.

The business loan program is using the almost $13 million raised through the sale of Grow Bonds to support small and medium-sized businesses in the North by providing loans for capital projects that directly result in permanent, full-time employment in the North.

To date, nine businesses have received loans under the pilot program totaling more than $5.6 million for projects that are creating and sustaining a total of 493 jobs. The Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Corporation Board continues to review loan applications and negotiate loans.


The GO North Investor Program promotes Northern Ontario investment opportunities to the world and helps attract investment and create jobs in the North. Key GO North activities include:

  • A multifaceted marketing and communication program targeted at key international markets identified through an Investment Attraction Study. The multi-language, business-oriented campaign includes print and online advertising profiling the strengths and opportunities of Ontario’s North to international investors in existing and emerging sectors. Since launching in June 2005, other sales and marketing support tools developed include: a Northern Ontario web module profiling 78 northern communities and 13 northern business testimonials; brochures and inserts for forestry, mining, contact centres, value-added wood, mining equipment and services, bio products and an Ontario’s North brochure, video and trade display booth. Go North has also funded trade missions and public relations activities around key industry events.
  • The Northern Communities Investment Readiness (NCIR) initiative helps communities identify investment opportunities and prepare for investment attraction. Since its launch in November 2005, more than $1 million in NCIR funding has been approved for 109 initiatives enhancing the investment readiness of communities across the North. Program sponsorship of two seminars and six Investment Readiness workshops across the North bringing key site selection professionals to northern communities further enhanced the preparedness of northern communities to attract investment.


Following significant community consultation, improvements to Ontario Northland’s train service between Moosonee and Cochrane were introduced in June 2007. Specifically, passenger and freight train service were separated and a single passenger train, called the Polar Bear Express, began operating between the two communities (a combination of the Little Bear and Polar Bear Express trains). The new Polar Bear Express provides more frequent service: six return trips a week in the summer and five return trips a week during the remainder of the year. In addition, new policies and procedures, designed to improve service levels, have been introduced. Freight service is now provided twice weekly.

Refurbishment work on the GO Transit Project continued to progress well. Ontario Northland had successfully delivered 40 completely refurbished commuter cars to GO Transit as of March 31, 2008.

Ontera (Ontario Northland’s telecommunications division) has embarked on a program to significantly upgrade its infrastructure, which will noticeably benefit all residents of Northeastern Ontario. In addition, the Company has secured several major contracts.


The M.S. Chi Cheemaun ferry service operates between South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. On average it transports 250,000 passengers per year. In 2007, the OSTC began design and construction of hydraulic wheelchair lifts for the Tobermory and South Baymouth terminal passenger ramps. In 2007, one lift was completed and the second lift will be completed early in 2008-09. Total project cost will be $420,000. These projects will improve accessibility for all passengers.


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. Since 2003, agencies and organizations in northern communities have received more than $1.4 million. Recipients include family resource and sexual assault centres, public health groups, school boards, multicultural associations, women’s shelters, and agencies working with people with disabilities.

In 2007-08, MNDMF, through the VAWPI Program, provided a total of $280,000 to 94 projects intended to raise awareness about, and reduce, domestic violence in Northern Ontario.


As part of its commitment to integrated delivery of government services, the ministry completed the Cochrane and Sudbury ServiceOntario Counter renovation projects, which will enhance the way customers access the information, services and resources they need.

As part of its commitment to improving access to government services for First Nation communities and citizens of the North, the ministry worked with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Culture, to establish 94 northern ServiceOntario library or band office sites with trained local assistance. This includes 51 municipal libraries, 19 First Nations libraries and 24 band offices. The ministry also established and manages 11 southern First Nation library/band office sites.


On March 6, 2006, Ontario’s first Mineral Development Strategy was released with the aim of enhancing the mineral sector’s global competitiveness, while developing new opportunities for all Ontarians. In 2007-08, the ministry continued its efforts to implement the Mineral Development Strategy, to attract new mineral investment (e.g. diamond exploration) and facilitate meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal communities and the mining sector.


The preliminary estimates for exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures during the year 2007 climbed to $502 million from $347 million in 2006, while spending intentions for 2008 show an increase of 25 percent to $629 million. The spending intentions for 2008 indicate that Ontario will lead all Canadian provinces and territories in exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures, accounting for 23 percent of Canada’s total expenditures.

The expenditures by activity in 2007 were $407 million (81 percent) for “off mine-site” exploration and $95 million (19 percent) for “on mine-site” exploration, while spending intentions for 2008 indicate that $529 million (81 percent) will be spent on “off mine-site” and $100 million (19 percent) will be spent on “on mine-site” exploration activity.

It is clear that “junior” companies are playing a more prominent role in exploration in Ontario. In 2008, spending by Ontario’s junior mining companies is expected to climb to $329 million, up significantly from $225 million in 2007, and more than double the $160 million spent in 2006. The percentage of exploration spending by junior companies is expected to climb to over 50 percent of total expenditures in 2008, from 45 percent in 2007.

In 2008, senior companies are expected to spend almost $300 million as exploration activity continues at record levels and gold producers are conducting extensive exploration and development work in the vicinity of their gold mines. The spending by Ontario’s senior companies reached $277 million in 2007, up from $186 million in 2006.

Gold continues to be the most sought-after commodity in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally. Also, diamond exploration continues across the province in areas such as Wawa and Cobalt and spending has climbed to $29 million in 2007.


The Far North Geological Mapping Initiative was completed March 31, 2008. Successes include new geological mapping results for key areas of high mineral potential and the establishment of stronger community-level relationships with several Aboriginal communities.

$1 million was invested in the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) Geoscience Laboratories that generates data in support of the OGS maps. It also supports an innovative partnership with Laurentian University to share analytical resources and train students.

Through the OGS, the ministry invests about $7 million annually in geological mapping and resource inventory to identify and promote northern areas having high mineral potential of interest to investors.

Through OGS studies, the ministry also helped conservation authorities identify, protect and manage Ontario’s groundwater resources. The OGS also provided its scientific expertise to research that will help ensure safe, clean drinking water.


The ministry continued implementation of a new investment and marketing initiative to target national and international investors as well as exploration and mining companies. Over 80 mining and exploration companies were directly targeted at seven separate marketing events.

The GeologyOntario website, launched in February 2007, gives mineral clients access to all publicly available knowledge assets describing Ontario’s geology, mineral resources, and industry generated data. Investors around the world have direct access to information that will support investment decisions and mineral investment in Ontario. In 2007-08 the GeologyOntario website posted over 21,000,000 hits with over 150,000 visitors.

A Google Earth-based viewing tool was developed allowing geological information to simply and quickly be placed on a scalable image of the earth surface. Containing links to assessment files and OGS publications, this product increases the ease of access and use of geoscience information.

The Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council, established by the government in November 2003, continued its efforts to create a stronger, sustainable and more globally competitive mineral cluster. This includes: exploring opportunities and partnerships to develop and export value-added products and services in areas of new technology and deep mining; addressing the skilled work force shortage; modernizing permitting and approvals; and facilitating dialogues between industry and Aboriginal communities on resource revenue sharing.

In addition, the government introduced the Ontario Diamond Royalty – a net profits-based system with a graduated royalty rate and unique made-in-Ontario deductions that will support the expansion of Ontario’s developing diamond mining industry while benefiting Ontarians. Because the royalty is profit-based, companies won’t pay any diamond royalty until they earn a profit and only after they make use of significant eligible deductions. As a result, even a profitable mine will only pay an effective royalty rate in the range of four to 10.4 percent.


The number of active mining claim units in good standing in Ontario climbed to a record high of 308,000 in 2007, an increase of 35 percent from 229,000 in 2006. This increase was attained by a record level of 114,000 claim units recorded during 2007. Thunder Bay led all Mining Divisions in Ontario with 84,000 active claim units, up from 58,000 in 2006.

The value of assessment work in Ontario declined slightly to $85 million in 2007 from $88 million in 2006, but it was still up significantly from $68 million in 2005.

The ministry continued work under the Abandoned Mines Rehabilitation Program. Through the program, $60 million is being invested over six years. This program has been very successful in eliminating or reducing environmental and physical safety hazards.

The ministry also continued working with other ministries and the federal government to develop a one-window approach for permitting and approvals processes dealing with exploration and mining projects.


The ministry continued public discussions on how to develop mining-related consultation guidelines. The goal is to come up with a consultation approach that works for Aboriginal communities, Ontario and the mineral industry.

The ministry collaborated with the private sector, Confederation College, and Aboriginal training organizations and communities to deliver a certified line cutting course for Aboriginal students. Approximately 100 Aboriginal people received certified line cutting training.

Since 2003, the ministry has engaged with representatives from 49 of Ontario’s First Nations, the Algonquin Land Claim Negotiation Representatives (nine areas) and the Metis Nation of Ontario, through facilitated workshops, focused meetings and presentations. The ministry has also engaged with three Aboriginal Treaty Organizations and six Aboriginal Tribal Council Organizations.

Since January 2007, the ministry is aware of at least 18 agreements have been signed between Aboriginal communities and the minerals sector. Overall, the ministry is aware of 40 similar agreements in place. These range from socio-economic agreements to exploration agreements to impact benefit agreements.

The ministry has also continued it’s commitment to engage in more focused discussions with the Metis Nation of Ontario, Grand Council Treaty 3 (representing 28 First Nations), Windigo Tribal Council (seven First Nations) and Matawa Tribal Council (nine First Nations) and the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives.