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Parliamentary assistant for the transportation minister conducts consultations in northern Ontario. (Vijay Thanigasalam/Twitter)

The Ford government is developing a transportation plan that says it will get people moving, connect communities and bring more economic opportunities to the people of northern Ontario.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation Vijay Thanigasalam was in northern Ontario to meet with officials from municipalities, Indigenous communities, transportation agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses to listen to the transportation challenges and opportunities that are unique to the region.

"Our government is listening to people and businesses in northern Ontario. We are committed to improving transportation services in the region," said Thanigasalam. "Our sessions provided an opportunity to hear about how we can help improve transportation in northern and remote communities. The feedback we received will help inform our plan to connect more people to places, provide options for people to get to critical services and create economic growth in the north."

Participants provided feedback on ways to improve the transportation network in northern Ontario, including: improving highways, adding more rest areas for drivers and providing people with more options to travel between communities. 

Feedback and suggestions from the sessions will help the province deliver the upcoming transportation plan for northern Ontario.

"Our government is delivering on its commitment to connect people to more communities and address the unique transportation needs of every region across the province - including northern Ontario," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "This is part of our plan to help build a better transportation network and get people and goods moving."

"Our government understands the unique transportation challenges of the north and we are committed to ensuring northern Ontarians have access to a safe transportation network that supports northern businesses, communities and families alike," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.

Provincial government officials say developing transportation plans that address the unique needs of the region is part of the government's commitment to get people to where they want to go when they want to get there.

Sessions were held in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Kapuskasing, Sudbury and North Bay from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1.

In 2018-19, 26 municipalities representing 28 communities in northern Ontario received more than $8.5 million in provincial Gas Tax funding. And in 2019, 10 municipalities in northern Ontario were successful recipients of the Community Transportation Grant program for a combined total of over $4.2 million over a five-year period. 

As the PA to Min. @C_Mulroney, I had an excellent roundtable discussion in Sault Ste Marie, listening to local challenges & opportunities regarding #transportation. Special shout out to Min. @RossRomanoSSM for his strong advocacy on behalf of Sault Ste Marie. #NorthernOntario �� pic.twitter.com/oMn7dy4H2v

— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) January 30, 2020

It was a pleasure stopping by Siva's family restaurant in #Timmins during the #NorthenOntario driving tour.

Small businesses like this are the backbone of Ontario's economy. Thank you for the warm welcome Siva Anna! pic.twitter.com/AY9I4Weug9

— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) January 31, 2020

Started day 3 of our Northern Ontario driving tour in #Timmins by listening to representatives from the local community & industry about challenges and opportunities in #NorthernOntario. Next stop on our driving tour on behalf of Min. of Transportation @C_Mulroney in Kapuskasing. pic.twitter.com/Dv2iYZ0ujb

— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) January 31, 2020

It's a four-day #NorthernOntario driving tour of approximately 24 hours on the road visiting Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Kapuskasing, Sudbury, and North Bay, driving along highway 17, 11, 129 & 64. Happy to represent Min. @C_Mulroney, as the Parliamentary assistant. pic.twitter.com/STtPq1zX76

— Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) February 1, 2020 North Bay is the final stop of our #NorthernOntario driving tour. As the PA to Min. @C_Mulroney, I had a fantastic roundtable discussion listening to local issues. Special thanks to Min. @VictorFedeli for his strong advocacy on behalf of his constituents. #GettingOntarioMoving pic.twitter.com/GmfFzuoeVH — Vijay Thanigasalam (@VijayThaniMPP) February 1, 2020