Worried about AECL
QUEEN'S PARK - Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski asked the Minister of Economic Development, MPP Brad Duguid, why his Ministry has not contacted the federal government about the future of Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories.
On February 9, 2012, the federal government issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEOI) to gauge stakeholder interest in participating in the future of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories.
"Chalk River is home to Canada's premier nuclear research facility, and the economic impact of its 3,000 highly-paid and skilled jobs on the local municipalities and economy is enormous," Yakabuski said.
The deadline for submissions expired on April 2. Several municipal councils sent letters to the federal government within the timeframe, while the County of Renfrew submitted a comprehensive expression of interest, despite its limited resources. By contrast, the Ministry of Economic Development submitted no expression of interest, and had not even contacted the federal government to participate in the discussions.
"Chalk River Laboratories is too important for the Minister to stay sitting on the sidelines while the future of Ontario's nuclear industry hangs in the balance," said Yakabuski.
In announcing the RFEOI the federal Ministry of Natural Resources expressed a willingness to explore partnership opportunities with the Government of Ontario regarding the laboratories. The future operation of Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories is vital to support the preservation and enhancement of the 70,000 highly skilled and paid jobs in the Canadian nuclear industry, most of which are located in Ontario.
"Ontario must request a seat at the table when the federal government is discussing the future of Chalk River Laboratories. Thousands of good jobs depend on it. " Yakabuski said.
HANSARD - APR 19, 2012
ORAL QUESTIONS - NUCLEAR ENERGY
Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.
On February 9 of this year, the federal government issued a request for expressions of interest to gauge stakeholder interest in participating in the future of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s Chalk River nuclear laboratories. This is Canada's premier nuclear research facility, and the economic impact of its 3,000 highly-paid and skilled jobs on the local municipalities and economy is enormous.
I've written both the federal minister and your office on this issue. He has responded; you have not. Based on his reply, they would be open to a dialogue with the province - but his office has not heard from you, either.
Minister, have you contacted Minister Joe Oliver? If not, why are you sitting on the sidelines while the future of Ontario's nuclear industry hangs in the balance?
Hon. Brad Duguid: I have received the member's letter and I thank him for sending me that. I'll tell you, we are really serious about ensuring that our nuclear industry in this province does well. That's why we have been working very closely with the federal government to ensure that we move forward, through the leadership of the Minister of Energy, with our refurbishment of our nuclear units. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs in this province that depend on the nuclear industry.
I wish, though, that the PC Party could support the other jobs that we're creating. Just in the last few weeks, IBM made an important announcement here in Toronto: 145 high-end jobs. But guess what, Mr. Speaker? They wouldn't have been here if it were not for the program that we provided support for them on, that your party doesn't support.
This last month alone, 46,000 jobs created in this province, jobs that we're very, very proud of. We're going to keep creating jobs. The best thing we-
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. John Yakabuski: Minister, it's time to stop with the gobbledygook and answer the question. You have not contacted the federal minister. The nuclear industry research division at Chalk River is vital to the industry across Canada: 70,000 jobs, most of them right here in the province of Ontario.
If Chalk River Laboratories is revitalized as a national research facility, it will support tens of thousands of research projects with wide-ranging applications, including health, environment, energy, natural resources, nanotechnology, aerospace, automotive and manufacturing. Why do you continue to sit on the sidelines in this process and not speak directly to your federal counterparts when the new future of this research facility hangs in the balance? Get off your hands and start talking to Minister Oliver.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Order. Sit down, please.
Hon. Brad Duguid: This side of the House has shared this member's concern for a long time, about the lack of support from the federal government for important parts of the energy system here in this province. We've stood up for the energy workers of this province - whether it's clean energy, whether it's nuclear power - time and time again.
The federal government decided, in the middle of our consideration of a new build, to completely restructure AECL. Where was your voice then, when the nuclear workers of this province needed you? Today you stand up.
I've got a number, Mr. Speaker. It's 1-613-992-4211. It's Stephen Harper's number. Give him a call. Finally, for once, stand up for the workers of this province.