TORONTO – The Ontario government has created a locally-based task force in Northern Ontario that will focus on transportation needs and opportunities in the region. The Northern Task Force, made up of community-based leaders, will examine ways to make it easier for people and goods to travel, while boosting economic growth in the North.

“Our government understands that Northern Ontario has unique transportation needs that can make travelling between local communities more challenging for people, and we continue to take action to alleviate these challenges and make travel safer,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “The Northern Task Force will ensure transportation plans reflect the diverse voices within the community and inform our government of the most important local needs.”

Establishing a task force was one of more than 60 actions set out in Connecting the North: A Draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario. The task force includes representation from Northern mayors, Indigenous Chiefs and other business and transportation leaders from across the North.

“Getting the North moving is a top priority for our government,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “Establishing the Northern Task Force is another critical step in our government’s plan to build a better transportation network for northern Ontarians. We are committed to improving transportation and infrastructure to support a stronger economy for the North.”

The task force members are:

Danny Whalen (Co-Chair): President, Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) and Councillor, City of Temiskaming Shores

Wendy Landry (Co-Chair): President, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) and Mayor, Municipality of Shuniah

Mayor Brian Bigger: Mayor of Greater Sudbury

Mayor Daniel Reynard: Mayor of Kenora

Mayor Dave Plourde: Mayor of Kapuskasing

Mayor Doug Lawrance: Mayor of Sioux Lookout

Mayor Johanne Baril: Mayor of the Municipality of Val Rita-Harty and President of NorthEastern Ontario Municipal Association

Grand Chief Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh: Grand Council Treaty #3

Chief Melvin Hardy: Northern Superior Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief, Anishinabek Nation

Kevin Eshkawkogan: CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario

Alan Spacek: Chair of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Charles Cirtwill: President and CEO of the Northern Policy Institute

Ron Bumstead: Owner, Bumstead Trucking

Additional members may be added at a later date.

“I am pleased and honoured that Minister Mulroney has asked me to Co-Chair this task force with NOMA President Wendy Landry,” said Danny Whalen, Co-Chair of the Northern Task Force and President of FONOM. “The Minister has heard the concerns of northerners with regards to transportation needs and the safety of our northern highways. The quality of the people appointed to this Transportation Task Force ensure reasonable and responsible results.”

“I am honoured to be included and co-lead the Northern Task Force and look forward to collaborating with government and other representatives as we work to improve the safety of our highways,” said Wendy Landry, Co-Chair of the Northern Task Force and President of NOMA.