ELLIOT LAKE – On Monday, Algoma-Manitoulin NDP MPP Michael Mantha issued the following open letter calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to immediately commit to investing in the Huron Central Railway:
The Huron Central Railway (HCRY) is vital for good northern Ontario jobs from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury. Families are counting on their government to save this critical northern freight line — you must not let them down. Premier today is your last opportunity to commit to funding the provincial share of upgrades and repairs along this corridor – a commitment that is required to unlock the federal portion of the funding.
New Democrats are calling on you to meet our commitment of $4 million a year for five years to keep the Huron Central rolling, and save thousands of jobs.
As you know, the HCRY operates a shortline freight service on over 280 km of railway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. The company has long called for the provincial and federal government to assist in rehabilitating the infrastructure along the rail corridor. In June 2016, HCRY first approached the premier and Ministry of Transportation to ask for a provincial commitment. In total, HCRY has had eleven rounds of engagement with your government, meeting with your office directly throughout the process. Today, HCRY will be submitting their application for federal funding – and a provincial commitment is a critical piece of that application.
Premier, the HCRY is critical for northern Ontario to thrive. Over 60 per cent of the railways business originates in Sault Ste. Marie—primarily in the steel industry with Algoma being the railway’s largest customer. In total, over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs depend on the future of the railway and for many of its customers, the HCRY is the only viable freight option in the region. If your government fails to act, good northern Ontario jobs will be at risk. One potential option to fill the gap your government will create, if you choose to let HCRY die, is to put 30,000 more trucks on the road. This will have a disastrous impact on road conditions in northern Ontario and cause greenhouse gas emissions to soar.
New Democrats are determined to stand up for families in northern Ontario whose livelihood depends on the HCRY. While your government continues to dismiss HCRY’s concerns and the Conservatives do nothing at all on the issue, New Democrats are committed to real action. In May, we committed to provide the HCRY with the $5 million-per-year funding it needs to save this rail line. Today is your last opportunity to meet that commitment before HCRY moves forward with its request for federal funding.
New Democrats are calling on you to stop letting northern Ontario families down and immediately commit to funding the provincial share of the HCRY rehabilitation project.
I look forward to your immediate response.