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County delegation at rural Ontario conference

Attendees at the conference heard from Premier Doug Ford, Monday. – Steve Ferguson photo

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson and municipal representatives are discussing several top issues in the municipality at this week’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in Toronto.

“It has been a packed two days, full of interesting presentations and well-attended meetings,” Ferguson said. The group has joined more than 1,000 officials from across the province.

With Ferguson are delegation members councillor Ernie Margetson and CAO James Hepburn.

“We have had delegations with Kinga Surma, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transport to discuss County Road 49 among other things; Christine Elliot (MOHLTC) to again raise awareness about the new hospital, the foundation’s activities in that regard, and to talk about the need for more long term care beds,” said Ferguson.

The County delegation also met with Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, concerning
Queen Elizabeth School and to update issues related to Pinecrest and the Sophiasburgh
Hub.

“Today, we just finished a meeting with Christine Hogarth, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and housing about the PEC Housing Corporation and the need for further investment in social housing.”

In addition to the conference program, municipal staff and officials can take part in more than 400 municipal delegation meetings with provincial and federal ministries to discuss local need and priorities.

“All meetings have been straight forward with a full understanding by the provincial government of the reasons for our asks. No immediate commitments but they realize the necessity,” said Ferguson.

Other meetings have been held with the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus to support its priority project of addressing the cell gap issue that is affecting development (economic) in eastern Ontario and with the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus to support their initiatives related to infrastructure and housing.

Ferguson noted there were also several formal presentations and speeches on the agenda including information on cannabis retailing; seminars and presentations about the economics of food tourism, changes to government legislation, asset management plans, broadband and an update on 5G, long-term care homes in rural Ontario, and many others.

The conference, coming six months after the change in provincial government, focuses on challenges and emerging opportunities facing rural communities in Ontario.

Premier Doug Ford, speaking on Monday, reaffirmed the Ontario government’s plan to ensure rural communities are open for business “by cutting red tape and making it easier to create and protect good-paying jobs.”

“For too long, rural Ontario has been ignored. Our hardworking farmers have been ignored,” said Ford. “Ontario’s economy relies on agriculture. Our natural resources and forestry industries are major economic drivers. We need to do everything in our power to get our farmers and rural businesses the support they need to grow and create more local jobs.”

Premier Ford highlighted the actions the government is taking to lighten regulatory burdens.

“We promised to support our rural businesses and communities, and we’re keeping our promise,” said Ford. “We’re lowering electricity costs, we’re slashing red tape and we’re getting out of the way of businesses so they can focus on growing and creating jobs.”

Ford also committed to delivering better health care to rural communities. The government is investing $175 million in infrastructure upgrades at 128 hospitals across Ontario.

Filed Under: Local News

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