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Province launches Northern Policy Institute

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Ontario is launching the Northern Policy Institute to boost the northern economy and help provide a stronger voice to Northern Ontario.

The institute, an independent, not-for-profit organization, will monitor the implementation of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario and make provincial policy recommendations for the region.

It will work with northern municipalities, post-secondary institutions, research groups, aboriginal organizations, Francophone groups, and industry to set priorities and directions for northern development.

The Northern Policy Institute is proceeding under the direction of two advisors: Dr. Brian Stevenson, president of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, and Dominic Giroux, president of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

They will provide guidance to the institute, which will be based out of their respective universities.

Investing in Northern Ontario’s communities is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to strengthen the economy.

A strong northern economy creates local jobs and protects the services that mean the most to families: health care and education.

“In extensive consultations across the north during the development of the Growth Plan, northern stakeholders were highly-supportive of establishing a Northern Policy Institute,” said Northern Development and Mines minister Rick Bartolucci.

“I am pleased to launch a public policy institute that will provide a northern perspective for provincial policies and programs that affect Northern Ontario,” he added.

“As a northern minister and as a life-long northerner, I welcome any tool that ensures the unique needs of the north are understood and met,” Bartolucci pledged.

“The Northern Policy Institute is another example of how our government is delivering on the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, a 25-year vision for strengthening the northern economy,” said Infrastructure and Transportation minister Bob Chiarelli.

“The plan was developed by northerners, for northerners, and this institute will help provide an important northern perspective that will guide decisions now and into the future,” he noted.

“One of the guiding principles of the institute is to stimulate public engagement and dialogue, and promote the viewpoints of Northern Ontarians,” said Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro, parliamentary assistant to the minister of Northern Development and Mines.

“The institute will provide valuable and welcome opportunities to members of the public to share their ideas,” he remarked.

“I’d like to give special thanks to NOMA and ‘Common Voice Northwest’ for their strong advocacy of a policy institute throughout the Growth Plan consultation process, as well as all northerners who shared that vision,” said Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle, who also is the minister of natural resources.

“And, of course, to presidents Stevenson and Giroux for their continued commitment to seeing us achieve this important goal for northerners,” he added.

“The Northern Policy Institute’s mandate complements the themes of the Growth Plan, and sets the tone for a collaborative, evidence-based multi-sector approach engaging public- and private-sector partners to conduct research,” said Dr. Stevenson.

“The institute will provide a northern perspective, grounded in quality research, to guide the policy development and economic decisions of governments, communities, business, and industry,” he explained.

“Input from First Nations’ leadership will be an important part of the Northern Policy Institute’s work, by including an aboriginal perspective in developing policy recommendations affecting their communities, as well as communities across the north.”

“The Northern Policy Institute will focus on northern policy priorities in partnership with stakeholder groups from throughout Northern Ontario, including municipal associations, Francophone groups, labour groups, universities, colleges, indigenous organizations, and private-sector industry,” echoed Giroux.

“The institute responds to the expressed intent of northerners having a stronger say in policy directions affecting the north.

“This investment over the next five years will allow for policies that are proposed for and by the north, leading to better community engagement in the decisions that affect the day-to-day lives in our communities,” he said.

A search is underway for the founding CEO, who will oversee the institute’s preparation of a five-year business plan.

In April, 2011, a questionnaire was sent to more than 1,400 individuals and organizations seeking input on the mandate of the institute.

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