Friday, May 2, 2014

NDP To Reject Budget

An Ontario election appears likely this spring.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath says her party will not support passing of the Liberal budget.

Speaking to reporters at Queen's Park, Horwath says her decision is based on the scandals that have plagued the Liberals over the past several years.

Horwath believes the budget is about throwing money around simply to avoid the scandals.

Budget Announced

The Liberal government is out with its budget for 2014.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the document at the Ontario Legislature yesterday.

It calls for spending of more than $130-billion on a variety of programs.

That increases the deficit to $12.5 billion this year, but Sousa is promising to balance the books by 2017.

Area Liberals Happy With Budget

Provincial Liberals from northwestern Ontario are happy with the budget.

Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro says the budget is great for people in northwestern Ontario.

Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle says it contains many perks for northwestern Ontario.

It includes previously announced funding for the Ring of Fire and dedicated to annual funding for municipalities to fix up roads and bridges.

The NDP must support the budget in order for it to pass, something Gravelle hopes takes place.

Opposition Reaction To Budget

Reaction from the opposition to the budget not surprising.

PC Finance Critic Vic Fedeli says the budget only increases spending and piles more onto an already historic provincial debt.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who remained quiet about the budget yesterday, is expected to comment at a news conference planned for this morning.

Budget Reaction

Plenty of reaction to the provincial budget.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union wants the NDP to reject the budget and force an election.

President Warren Thomas says while some low-income wage earners will be helped, the budget aims to cuts jobs and wages of most public employees.

He's also objecting to the Liberal's plan to boost private financing to some public services and infrastructure projects.

Meantime, Unifor has come out in support of the Liberal budget.

It calls the budget "decent," noting that it provides some important investments in public services and infrastructure.

The union is hoping the NDP give its support.

The Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario says it while welcomes plans to expand the scope of nurses and other health care professional, the extra $11-billion for capital improvements and the pay increase to personal support workers in the home and community section, the budget fails to address the funding constraints hospital and other health facilities are now under.

Students feel they've been left out of the Ontario budget.

Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario says it sees nothing to improves access or affordability for the thousands of students struggling financially to attend college or university.

Chair Alastair Woods says it's clear that students don't register as a Liberal priority.

High Schools Prepare For New Program

Five high schools, including Fort Frances High, are preparing to be part of a new business and entrepreneurship pilot program aimed at aboriginal students.
Lucie Santoro of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative says it will be offered to grade 11 and 12 students.
Santoro says subjects focus on all aspects of business.
The program will begin this fall.

More Border Officers Hired

Watch for some new faces as you cross the border into the United States.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is in the process of hiring two-thousand new officers.

They're to be deployed at 44 land, air and sea ports across the U.S.

Minnesota Bicycle-Friendly

MN Bike Trail Navigator
Minnesota is being applauded for its efforts to promote cycling in the state.
The League of American Bicyclists says Minnesota ranks number two among the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation.
The State includes thousands of miles of trails for biking, including 600 paved routes.
Minnesota also has a bike-sharing system in the Twin Cities which is expected to expand elsewhere in the future.

Camp Seeks More Campers

Supplied photo
More campers from northwestern Ontario are wanted by a camp specifically for children with cancer.

Camp Quality near Thunder Bay is offering its annual week-long camp in July.

Director Ashleigh Quarrell says a number of openings are now available.

There is no cost to attend, but eligible campers need to register by May 31.

Click this link to register.

No Change In Mill's Future

Resolute Forest Products says its plans for the mill in Fort Frances remain unchanged.

The company says it's still working to reposition the idle operation.

But in a conference call to investors Thursday, president Richard Garneau says that hasn't been so successful.

Garneau adds they have spent nearly $9-million on steps that keep the mill in idle-mode.

Layoffs Announced For Thunder Bay Mill

Twenty-five to thirty workers are being temporarily laid off at the Resolute Forest Products saw mill in Thunder Bay.

Spokesperson  Xavier Van Chau says it's because they have too much lumber caused by a lack of rail cars to ship it to market.

Van Chau adds that no students will be hired at the sawmill this summer because of the layoffs.

Weather Blamed For Resolute Losses

Resolute Forest Products says this past winter has had an impact on its bottom line.

The company says its operating loss now stands at $50-million.

It blames the winter weather which led to higher electricity costs, production disruptions and equipment failures, as well as disruptions in shipments.

Region At Low End Of Health Report

Ontario has a long way to go when it comes to the health of its residents.
That's according to the Canadian Index of Well Being's report on health.
Northwest Community Care Access Centre's Wendy Talbot says our region's health rates remain at the lower end of the scale.
The report calls on the Ontario Government to expand its Community Health Centres Network.

Rainy Lake Identified As Top Bass Lake

FFCBC photo
Rainy Lake is again being identified as one of the top lakes in America for bass fishing.

The publication Bassmaster pegs the lake at number 29, up 13 spots from its 2013 ranking.

While bordering with Ontario, the magazine says Rainy Lake is one of Minnesota's most storied fisheries, featuring world class scenery with smallmouth fishing to match.

The Lake was ranked 11th in a 2012 survey.