Green jobs for the “new climate economy” are an important plank in the Green Party of Ontario’s platform for the north, which Leader Mike Schreiner unveiled on Tuesday morning.
“We think we can be an example for the rest of the world in how to mine critical and rare earth minerals in a way that is sustained, environmentally sustainable, but also engages on the path to reconciliation,” Schreiner said during a campaign stop in North Bay, ahead of the Northern Ontario Leaders Debate.
He noted the debate will be the first time a fourth party gets to participate in a leaders’ debate in Ontario.
Schreiner said a Green Party of Ontario government would work closely with First Nations to mine the critical minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries in a sustainable way.
He said Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s talk of building a road to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits in northwestern Ontario himself “shows a level of disrespect for Indigenous peoples and northerners that will only delay the development of mining in the north.”
Health care promises
Schreiner said health care, and investing in support for mental health and addictions, are also major priorities for his party.
Build at least 4,000 supportive homes and 6,000 affordable community rental homes for northern communities if elected.
“We know that the mental health and addictions crisis is affecting communities all across Ontario, but it’s disproportionately impacting northern communities,” he said.
“The drug poisoning crisis is three times more prevalent in the north than it is in the south.”
Schreiner also promised his government would help build 14,000 Indigenous-led affordable homes in northern Ontario.
On health care, he promised to invest in nurse practitioner-led clinics in northern Ontario where improved access to primary care is critical.
Schreiner also said he would support the University of Sudbury’s plans to become an independent French-language institution.
Similar to the NDP, he also said he would immediately restore and improve the Northlander passenger rail service between Toronto and Cochrane, Ont. The Green Party would provide upfront capital costs of $220 million and operating subsidies of $12 million per year to restore the Northlander service.
The Ontario NDP unveiled their northern Ontario platform on Monday, with a strong focus on health care.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised her party would hire and recruit 300 physicians for northern Ontario . She also promised to build 3,600 new units for supportive housing in the north.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford made campaign stops in Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins over the weekend, where he promised his government would build a $1-billion road to the Ring of Fire.
Ford also made commitments to improve northern highways, including Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie and Highway 101 in Timmins.
The Ontario Liberal Party released their northern Ontario Tuesday morning, which included plans to attract more new immigrants to northern Ontario and greater access to physicians and nurse practitioners in the region.