Annual Report 2008-2009

To support new initiatives and existing ministry programs, the government, through the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, invested approximately $900 million in the North and in Ontario’s mineral sector in 2008-09.

Northern Highways and Winter Roads

For 2008-09, the ministry invested approximately $546 million in northern highway rehabilitation and expansion. Highlights include:

  • New projects to advance the government’s commitment to complete four-laning Highway 11 in 2012 and Highway 69 in 2017.
  • Work began on a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Noden Causeway on Highway 11 near Fort Frances.
  • Safety enhancements such as passing lanes, rest stops and variable message signs, announced throughout the year continued to be implemented along Highway 17 between Thunder Bay and Kenora and between Thunder Bay and White River, the Thunder Bay Expressway (Highway 11/17), Highway 11 north of North Bay and Highway 17 east and west of North Bay.
  • Announced plans to initiate two route planning studies through the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) along the 40km Highway 11/17 corridor from Kakabeka Falls to Shabaqua Corners and Highway 17 between Kenora and Manitoba. The route planning studies will recommend corridors for future four-laning
  • TO also initiated two detail design studies: for the 6km corridor from Hodder Avenue to Highway 527 -- this section of the highway contains the highest traffic volumes in the Thunder Bay to Nipigon corridor; and for the 12km corridor from Mackenzie to Birch Beach.

Through the Winter Roads Progam, 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 million in the construction of the winter road system in 2008-09, and has invested $18 million in construction and maintenance costs on the network since 2004-05.

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation

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.

The NOHFC continued to work with northern entrepreneurs, communities and business organizations to support vital infrastructure and economic development projects that enhance quality of life, create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

Since October 2003, over 11,380 jobs and 238 co-op placements are being created or sustained in the North as a result of approximately 2,047 projects to which the NOHFC committed more than $399 million. These investments have leveraged another $1.2 billion from project partners.

In 2008-09, the 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 $137 million has been invested in local community infrastructure development and enhancement projects through the NOHFC’s Infrastructure and Community Development Program;
  • Over $21 million has been approved through the Youth Internship and Co-Op Program. This helped create over 1,100 internships and co-op placements which span the entire North, including Far North remote communities;
  • Over $5.1 million has been invested under the Young Entrepreneur Program to over 226 businesses across the North;
  • Over $70 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;

Growth Plan for Northern Ontario

The Ministries of Northern Development and Mines and Energy and Infrastructure continued working with northerners to develop a Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

More than 1,700 northerners have already provided input to the plan through one of 13 regional sessions and more than 30 other meetings, workshops and conferences.

  • Close to 400 northerners provided input at regional sessions held in Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Dryden, Marathon, Wawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Temiskaming Shores, Timmins, Kapuskasing and North Bay or at francophone sessions in Timmins and Sudbury;
  • More than 200 youth have participated in youth dialogue sessions;
  • In September, 2008, the Northeast, Northwest and Far North Northern Development Councils (NDCs) provided input at an all-NDC meeting in Thunder Bay;
  • More than 400 northerners participated in the Think North Summit together with national and international experts;

Northerners have also been providing input directly through the Places to Grow website.

Northern Development Councils (NDCs)

In 2008-09, the NDCs moved from a four council to a three council model when the Major Cities NDC was merged with the Northeast and Northwest NDCs. There is now one for the Northeast, one for the Northwest and one for the Far North. This change enables members from major cities, small communities and rural areas to work together to contribute their input and develop recommendations while continuing to address challenges of travelling across vast regions of Northern Ontario.

In September 2008 the NDCs were engaged by government to provide input on the Growth Plan, modernization of the Mining Act, the competitiveness of Ontario’s tourism industry and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs’ New Relationship Fund.

Northern Ontario Grow bonds

The Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Business Loan Pilot Program continued investing in northern businesses using the almost $13 million raised through the sale of Grow Bonds. To date, 11 businesses have received loans under the pilot program totaling more than $6.5 million for projects that will create jobs in Northern Ontario.

As the Northern Ontario Grow Bonds Program was a pilot project, an initial review was undertaken and a full evaluation of the program is underway.

Go North Investor Program

The GO North Investor Program continued to promote Northern Ontario investment opportunities to the world. In the fall of 2008, the two Northern International Business Development Consultants (IBDCs), contracted through the GO North program, visited the five major cities to learn about investment opportunities and toured over 80 companies.

As part of GO North, the Northern Communities Investment Readiness (NCIR) initiative continued to help communities, Economic Development Corporations and First Nations identify investment opportunities and prepare for investment attraction. Since its launch in November 2005, more than $1.4 million in NCIR funding has been approved for 145 initiatives across the North. For the fiscal year 2008 / 2009, the NCIR program assisted 53 separate communities.

Ontairo Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC)

The ministry provided the ONTC with over $46 million of capital and operating support in 2008-09 for the delivery of passenger transportation services and its commercial rail capital program across the Northeast.

The ONTC’s Rail Services Division had its refurbishment contract with GO Transit extended for an additional 50 cars. The Passengers Services Division continued to support tourism efforts in Northeastern Ontario through the Polar Bear Express and Dream Catcher Express. As part of efforts to enhance accessibility for its customers, the ONTC installed wheelchair lifts at Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville stations for the Northlander service.

Following community consultations, considerable enhancements to passenger rail service between Cochrane and Moosonee were introduced increasing the frequency of passenger trains while separating passenger and freight services. As a result, ridership on the Polar Bear Express has increased.

The Northlander also experienced an increase in ridership despite a 10-week work stoppage within the Motor Coach division in the fall of 2008. In addition, new policies, procedures and schedule changes, designed to improve service levels were introduced.

As a result of the downturn in its freight transportation business associated with the weakness in the resources sectors, the agency had to make some difficult decisions in 2008 and instituted a number of job reductions (approximately 35 positions) across its operations.

Ontera (Ontario Northland’s telecommunications division) continued its program to significantly upgrade its infrastructure, which will noticeably benefit all residents of Northeastern Ontario. The new ring-shaped network currently under construction will provide a more secure, reliable system for communities from North Bay to Timmins to Chapleau and Sudbury.

Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC)

The M.S. Chi Cheemaun ferry service operates between South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. On average it transports over 200,000 passengers per year. In 2007-2008, OSTC began design and construction of hydraulic wheelchair lifts for the Tobermory and South Baymouth terminal passenger ramps. Both elevators will be in operation for the start of the 2009 season. Total project cost will be $661,644. These projects will improve accessibility for all passengers.

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 2008-09, the ministry provided a total of $280,000 to 94 projects across Northern Ontario. Funding 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.


As part of the government’s modernization initiative, 33 northern ServiceOntario centres administered by the ministry were transferred to ServiceOntario, Ministry of Government Services (MGS). No job losses, closures or relocations are associated with this initiative.

The ministry will continue to have input into northern service delivery through participation in various governance roles with our partners at MGS. The transfer of the northern offices to ServiceOntario will help contribute towards enhanced harmonization and continuous improvement of services.

Supporting a Prosperous Minerals Sector

In 2008-09, 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 2008 was valued at $9.6 billion, with its 27 metal mines generating $6.6 billion for the economy.

Ontario led the country in exploration expenditures in 2008 with $667 million.
Active mining claim units reached 363,000 in 2008, exceeding 2007’s record level of 308,000, a record level for the sixth year in a row.

Last year saw the opening of DeBeers Canada’s Victor mine in the James Bay Lowlands about 50 kilometres west of Attawapiskat, which is estimated to contribute $6.7 billion to the Ontario economy over its projected 12-year life. The mine created 600 jobs during construction and 400 new full-time jobs when production began in July 2008.

In July 2008, Ontario and De Beers Canada reached an agreement that would see 10 per cent of the Victor Mine’s production, by value, made available for activities such as cutting and polishing in Ontario.

In March, 2009 Ontario joined the global stage as one of a few select countries that feature all the elements of the diamond industry—from mining to retailing – with the establishment of a Diamond Bourse of Canada. Located in Toronto, the Bourse will provide a safe and secure venue for diamond dealers to buy and sell rough and polished diamonds while offering its members increased efficiency, cost savings and credibility in their international diamond dealings. The Diamond Bourse of Canada is an industry led and member supported initiative.

Geoscience Mapping

The 2008 Provincial Budget announced $20 million over four years toward enhancing geoscience activities to identify economic opportunities across all of Ontario and to help address other public policy priorities including: drinking water protection; land-use planning; and enhancing the inventory of aggregate and other construction industrial minerals.

This investment will also 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.

In addition to identifying and promoting areas having high mineral potential to investors, the Ontario Geological Survey continued helping conservation authorities identify, protect and manage Ontario’s groundwater resources.

Investment Marketing

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 and free access to information that will support investment decisions and mineral investment in Ontario. In 2008-09 the GeologyOntario website had 21,000 visitors who downloaded 1300 GB of data.

A Google Earth-based viewing tool was developed allowing Ontario's geological information be overlain on satellite imagery of the earth surface. Containing links 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 and the familiar Google Earth application.

Administration of the Mining Act

The Mining Act Modernization initiative was launched on August 11, 2008. The ministry held public consultations and stakeholder sessions in five centres: Timmins, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Kingston, and Toronto. Approximately 20 targeted sessions also took place with industry, municipal, environmental, and other stakeholder groups. In total, approximately 1000 people participated in the various consultations sessions. One hundred and fifty-six responses were received through the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.

The ministry also undertook a comprehensive approach to engage the broadest possible cross-section of Aboriginal participation and input. Approximately 100 First Nations participated in some manner. A copy of the Mining Act modernization discussion paper was also mailed out to First Nations which included information on how to submit their views on the Mining Act process – 15 formal submissions were received.

The ministry hopes to introduce legislative changes in the Spring 2009 session of the Legislature and to have new rules in place later in the year. Discussions with First Nations and Métis communities and organizations will continue as regulations are drafted and implementation policies are developed.

In 2008, the ministry worked to develop more efficient and effective permitting and approval requirements for mineral development in Ontario. The aim is to uphold environmental standards while making the review process more efficient for all stakeholders, which is also in keeping with our government’s Open for BusinessInitiative. A ‘one window’ coordination process for mineral development projects in Ontario was developed in addition to a project definition template and a practitioner’s guide.

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 $50 million has been invested in this program.

Aboriginal Engagement

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

Since 2003, the government has invested over $29 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 45 additional 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.

In October of 2008, the ministry also signed a letter of intent with the Matawa First Nations to develop a consultation protocol for mineral exploration and mining activity on their traditional lands.

Through a partnership with Confederation College, the ministry has also actively engaged First Nations in training and information sessions related to the mineral sector while supporting First Nation participation at workshops, conferences and symposia.

The ministry also established an Aboriginal Relations Unit which includes Senior Aboriginal Liaison Officers located in Sudbury, Timmins and Thunder Bay who are helping build better relationships between industry, First Nations and Métis communities, and the government.

 Ministry Expenditures ($ Million)
Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2009)518.69