Ring of Fire Monitor

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ontario & Cliffs, just starting to talk

Feb 28, 2011'Conversation has really just begun' with Cliffs Natural Resources
By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff
Premier Dalton McGuinty insists his government is already doing a lot to help large companies set up shop in northern Ontario through an existing hydro rate reduction program and corporate tax cuts.
The mining company Cliffs Natural Resources announced Feb. 3 it may build a facility to process its Ring of Fire chromite in the City of Greater Sudbury.

However, at current provincial power rates, the facility wouldn't be economically viable anywhere in Ontario, the company said.
The Northern Ontario Industrial Electricity Rate program takes 25 per cent off the price of electricity for large businesses, McGuinty said, speaking to reporters Feb. 28 after a Liberal fundraising dinner at the Caruso Club.
The $550-a-plate Northern Trillium Dinner, which raised funds for the Ontario Liberal Fund, was attended by more than 500 people.
The province continues to reduce corporate tax cuts, McGuinty said. As well, the introduction of the HST is “a very important advantage for Ontario businesses,” he said.
When asked by a reporter what he thinks of Cliffs Natural Resources' bid for lower electricity rates, McGuinty said the company is doing “what I think is only natural.”
“First of all, I'm very pleased with the interest (Cliffs) has shown in Ontario, and they've demonstrated with respect to that part of the province, and the chromite to be had there,” he said.
“What we want to ensure we do is we squeeze as much of the revenues out of these operations here in Ontario as we can for Ontarians. We don't just want to pull the stuff out of the ground. We want to process it here too. Any value added, we want it all done here.
“I think, in fairness, the conversation has really just begun with the folks like Cliffs. I'm confident we're going to get where we need to go.”
McGuinty also addressed a reporter's questions about the problems associated with the city's health care bed shortage.
He said his government is “listening closely” to the Sudbury ALC Steering Committee, a community group charged with finding solutions to the bed shortage.
A new hospital has just opened in Sudbury, and there will soon be 128 more long-term care beds when the new St. Gabriel's Villa long-term care facility opens, he said.
“I know people would like to be able to deal with this all instantly,” McGuinty said. “I think we've increased overall health funding by some 40 per cent since 2003. I think 46 cents of every dollar, now, goes into health care.”
When asked what might be in the upcoming provincial budget for northerners, McGuinty answered by saying “it's been said that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour,” mentioning the province's support of projects such as the four-laning of Highway 69.
“I think that speaks to our commitment to the north,” he said. “However, I think people generally understand that these are kind of difficult times for government. We've amassed a considerable deficit. We've got to be careful about launching a whole bunch of new initiatives.”
During his wide-ranging 45-minute speech in front of those attending the dinner, McGuinty spoke about his government's record since it was first elected in 2003, pointing out improvements in everything from education to health care to infrastructure spending.
He also spoke about the recent global recession, and how the province was forced to borrow $4.8 million to prevent the loss of jobs.
McGuinty said the province does need to bring down the deficit, but it will do so “thoughtfully and responsibly,” through measures such as a five per cent reduction in the public services and freezing MPPs' pay.
“Some of the other guys want to come forward and say 'The only way to deal with this deficit is to pursue aggressive cuts,'” he said. “The purpose will not be so much to eliminate the deficit, as it is to move ahead with unaffordable, irresponsible tax cuts.”

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