With Ontario's jobs crisis growing worse each month, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark is calling on the McGuinty government to hold an urgent meeting to review the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) program.
Brockville - Nov. 8, 2011 - With Ontario's jobs crisis growing worse each month, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark is calling on the McGuinty government to hold an urgent meeting to review the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) program.
In a letter to Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid, Clark has requested a briefing on the $80-million program. And he's asked the minister to include every MPP from the region in that briefing - nine Progressive Conservatives and three Liberals.
"We need the minister to provide a forum for MPPs from across Eastern Ontario to tell the ministry how we think the EODF program can help create jobs in this region," stressed Clark. "This isn't about partisan politics, this is about elected representatives working together to put people back to work."
In the letter to Duguid, Clark noted Eastern Ontario PC MPPs Randy Hillier, Jack MacLaren, Lisa MacLeod, Jim McDonell, Rob Milligan, Laurie Scott, Todd Smith and John Yakabuski, as well as the party's Critic for Economic Development and Innovation MPP Marty McNaughton are supporting his request.
All of his Caucus colleagues have also agreed to take part in the briefing.
Clark has also written to Eastern Ontario Liberal MPPs Grant Crack (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell), John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands) and Jeff Leal (Peterborough) to ask them to support his request and to participate in the briefing.
"I'm hopeful that they will recognize, as our party clearly does, that it has been a month since the provincial election and people are tired of waiting for action to turn Ontario's economy around," said Clark.
"In October alone, Ontario lost a staggering 75,000 jobs. We can't sit back as 2,400 people a day lose work. I need MPPs of every political stripe to help me pressure Minister Duguid to bring us together to find solutions."
The four-year EODF program was created in 2008 to provide strategic investments to assist businesses in 13 Eastern Ontario counties and rural Ottawa to create new jobs and retain existing positions. The program is set to expire in March of 2012.
"I'm concerned that reports indicate that more than three years after it was created, the fund has up to $40 million left," noted Clark. "We've just come through one of the worst recessions in history and I question if those funds left in the program could have been used to save some of the jobs that have disappeared in Eastern Ontario."
With global economic turmoil - and Ontario's own dire fiscal situation - continuing to cast a long shadow over the region's economy, Clark said it's crucial that the remaining funds in the program are invested wisely.
"We have to get this right in the coming months. MPPs know their communities best and I think the ministry needs to listen to our ideas about how the EODF program has worked and what can be improved," explained Clark.
"Yes, it's a powerful tool that our region has at its disposal, but we need to make absolutely certain the funds are being targeted appropriately."