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FedNor now a standalone agency

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After more than 33 years as a federal program, FedNor is now a standalone agency for economic development in northern Ontario.

It means the agency can react directly to the needs of the north.

That from Anthony Rota, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming, who was at Science North in Sudbury on Tuesday for the announcement.

“We can make changes that will affect us directly, we do not have to rely on Ottawa to tell us ‘this is how you’re going to do it’, we’ve got guidelines like the other Regional Development Agencies in the country, but we can make those decisions that reflect us,” he says. 

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Rota says he’s been working with many people to get to this point since first being elected in 2004. 

“FedNor was always a program and that just bugged the hell out of me. It just ate away at me. Why would we be second-class citizens in northern Ontario?” he asks. “As a program, FedNor was very responsive and the staff here was fantastic but we didn’t have the same status. So today I think northern Ontario is getting a new status.  We are now first-class citizens when it comes to economic development in Canada.” 

Marc Serré, MP for Nickel Belt, says this builds on the work done to develop the Northern Ontario Growth Strategy. 

“We’re looking at creating jobs, we’re looking at keeping our youth in northern Ontario.  It’s so important, all of us since day one, that is our number one focus, keeping our youth.  Outmigration is real in northern Ontario and it’s a priority of FedNor, a priority of our government,” he says.

Serré says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed off on the change.

“He is the fifth prime minister since 1988 to have that opportunity and he’s the first to do so,” he says. “Our Prime Minister really supports northern Ontario, he’s been supporting us, he’s been listening to us.”

Neil Fox, General Manager at Economic Partners Sudbury East/West Nipissing Inc., says he hopes FedNor will now be better positioned to deploy their resources.

“I would like to congratulate the honourable Anthony Rota and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré along with all of the northern Liberal Caucus for their dogged pursuit of this strategic objective,” he said. “It is our hope that as a stand-alone Regional Development Agency, FedNor will be better positioned to deploy their resources with greater agility to the private and public sectors in Northern Ontario.”

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor, says they’re listening to the people of northern Ontario who have been calling for their own independent agency.

“By making FedNor a standalone agency, we are giving it more autonomy over its administration, and more independence, ensuring it is well-positioned to respond directly to the unique needs of businesses, organizations and communities across Northern Ontario,” she says. 

A release says since being created in 1987, FedNor has invested more than $1.4 billion to support over 7,500 projects, helping to create and maintain more than 87,500 jobs across northern Ontario.

Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the FedNor Minister, says the change takes effect immediately.  

“It was a commitment made in Budget 2021, working toward a standalone agency. And now the Prime Minister has signed off on it. So now we’re partners with the other six Regional Development Agencies,” he says. 


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