Sudbury Chapter: Citizens submit budget wish list

Click here to read ‘Citizens submit budget wish list’ by Carol Mulligan – The Subdury Star, January 10, 2016

If Finance Minister Bill Morneau listens to Sudburians, the first budget of his Liberal government will contain funding for mining innovation, the Maley Drive extension and other infrastructure projects, including those in the Ring of Fire.

It will invest money in the arts and in space mining, and address seniors’ needs, particularly in the area of health and housing.

Calls for those investments and more will be taken to Ottawa by Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre, who held a budget consultation Sunday at ParkSide Older Adult Centre.

Sudburians are also invited to submit budget recommendations to Lefebvre by the end of January.

Blustery weather may have kept many people home, but half a dozen people presented their ideas for how the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should spend Canadians’ money.

Joyce Mankarios, policy and public relations manager for the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, first thanked the Liberals for restoring the long-form census and providing relief to small businesses by lowering their tax rates.

A major priority is getting infrastructure projects “out the door,” said Mankarios. The chamber is encouraged the Liberals plan to increase infrastructure spending $125 billion in 10 years, but it wants to make sure a fair portion of that money comes to Northern Ontario and Sudbury.

The chamber is calling for “a swift commitment” to fund a third of the $80-million Maley Drive extension, which both the province and city have agreed to do.

The chamber also wants the Liberals to make a firm commitment on what it will invest to develop infrastructure for the Ring of Fire and to work with the Ring of Fire Infrastructure Development Corporation to bring electricity, transportation and communication to the Far North.

The chamber also wants the Citizenship and Immigration office that was closed in 2012 to reopen. Not having an office is a disadvantage in terms of being a welcoming city for new immigrants, said Mankarios, and is posing a hardship for Sudburians who must travel out of town to get passports and other documents.

Mankarios said Sudbury and the North want equitable regional development funding. The North needs access to a skilled workforce and the federal government could do that by speeding up the immigration process so experienced workers may be brought to Canada.

Brian Jones, vice-president of business innovation at the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, said CEMI will be tabling a report to the Liberal government with its recommendations.

It’s calling for more support for mining innovation in Canada. For every one job generated by mining, said Jones, three related jobs are created, many in supply and service.

Because of the cyclical nature of mining, and the fact mining is in a slump now, creative ideas are needed more than ever to reduce costs and increase production.

CEMI has a number of projects it could proceed with — including tailing and production innovations — but it needs government funding to leverage support from the private sector.

Paulette Gagnon, director of development with Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury, told Lefebvre it’s important Liberals properly fund CBC, Radio-Canada and Telefilm. Locally, it is seeking funding for a Places des Arts, a cultural centre to be built downtown that would house francophone, anglophone and other arts groups.

A feasibility study for the centre has been completed and those involved are ready to get it built.

Dale Boucher of Deltion Innovations Ltd. of Capreol said there’s a huge opportunity for Canada to invest in space mining, particularly for Sudbury to do so, because of our expertise in mining and robotics.

Jean-Yves Bujold didn’t represent any group or organization, but shared his own recommendation for the federal budget.

A long-time city worker who lives in Coniston, Bujold said Canada should invest in maintaining the infrastructure it has before committing money to projects such as the Maley extension. He said he doesn’t disagree with the Maley project, but called for “sound basic maintenance” of existing infrastructure.

He called on the federal government to provide more in transfer payments to the provinces and municipalities.

The Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons and Friendly to Seniors Sudbury submitted a written presentation. They represent more than 30,000 older adults in the city.

The groups called for an overhaul of the health-care system to address the growing needs of an aging population, and increased emphasis on home care and other measures to ensure more effective use of dollars for improved service.

They also spoke of the need for increased federal involvement, along with provincial and municipal governments, to provide more affordable housing for lower income individuals.

The seniors’ groups called for a re-examination of whether the multi-million-dollar Maley extension is the best way to spend taxpayers’ dollars, saying federal money should go to maintaining current infrastructure.