Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli announced this morning that the government will explore the feasibility of transferring the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to the Ministry of Transportation.
It presently falls under the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.
"This could allow the Province to centralize ministerial oversight of all government agencies with a mandate to deliver transportation services and create opportunities to improve services," said a news release.
Fedeli was joined by Corina Moore, president of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission; and Andy Mitchell, president, Unifor Local 103, at a news conference this morning.
“Northeastern Ontario has been united with one voice on the importance of Ontario Northland, and where we all feel it needs to go next,” said Fedeli.
"The fact the MTO has locomotives, they run trains, and buses and the fact that Ontario Northland runs trains and buses, there's a huge synergy in putting these two back together. It's where they were when they began and this is where they belong and we'll do everything in our power now to move this along very quickly. It's complicated to move an entire corporation into a new ministry but we're making it happen."
As well, Fedeli says the Province will explore options to enhance intercommunity bus services provided by the ONTC, to ensure underserved and unserved Northern communities are connected and people have access to jobs and critical services.
“Make no mistake, our government’s commitment to Ontario Northland is clear,” Fedeli added.
“We are taking the steps necessary to ensure Ontario Northland remains an important driver for economic development; that it will keep people and goods moving in the North, and that Ontario Northland will help make the North open for Business and open for jobs now and in the future.”
“Aligning Ontario Northland with the Ministry responsible for transportation planning, infrastructure, and integrated transportation service delivery across the Province is positive for Ontario Northland and the North," said Moore. "It's been a long time coming.
"This model ensures more effective collaboration between the two Provincial transportation agencies and will continue to create opportunities to improve seamless transportation services for our rail and bus passengers. We are excited to implement expanded services to ensure improved transportation options across Northern Ontario. The Ministry understands transportation and how to seamlessly integrate services. The understand the infrastructure requirements. They are planning what infrastructure needs to look like in the province and we'll have a greater voice in what northern Ontario needs to ensure that plan includes an integrated service of Ontario Northland's bus and rail services.”
“We have been vocal for quite some time to the Premier about transferring Ontario Northland to the Ministry of Transportation,” said Mitchell. “We have great synergies with Metrolinx and reporting to the same Ministry will only enhance transportation services across the Province. We’re pleased that the government is listening and hope for a seamless and timely transition.”