Budget good news for southwest Ontario
BUDGET GOOD NEWS FOR SOUTHWEST ONTARIO, SAYS REGIONAL ECONOMIC ALLIANCE CHAIR
Stratford, Jan.27, 2009 -- Statement from the Chair of the Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA), Stratford mayor Dan Mathieson, in response to today’s federal budget.
The Alliance represents business, industry, universities and colleges, municipalities and government organizations in Southwest Ontario
“Today’s budget is good news for Southwest Ontario. It is good news for our communities, for our citizens and for our economy. Southwest Ontario is at the centre of $750 billion a year in trade with the United States. We have 2.5 million people and almost 25 per cent of Ontario’s jobs, and yet we have faced some serious challenges--the U.S. economic slowdown, an aging border and transportation infrastructure, and a faltering auto sector—without a coordinated national response.
Today’s announcement of the creation of an economic development agency--something our region has been pushing for years--means that our voice has been heard. This means coordinated strategies can be developed that not only focus on our problems but more importantly, leverage our strengths: our universities and colleges, our skilled work force and our entrepreneurial spirit.
Alone, this announcement would not have been enough to move our region back on the path to prosperity. But the budget’s focus on infrastructure and job creation, its focus on growing the capacity of our colleges and universities, and its focus on retraining mean that it contains a series of measures that go to the heart of some of the more urgent needs and opportunities we face.
A few weeks ago I was in Ottawa meeting with members of Parliament and officials, making the case on behalf of our region.We put on the table our priorities: an economic development agency to drive economic growth and modernization; accelerated investments in our infrastructure to create jobs and lay the foundations for a more competitive economy; and investments in skills so that we would retrain to retain our workers. Today I can say that the government has delivered. But it is the first step. Tomorrow we must begin the work of putting all of these pieces together so that we can bring economic security and prosperity back to our region. SWEA is ready to sit down with the federal and provincial government to begin this work.”