OTTAWA – NDP Transport and Infrastructure Critic Olivia Chow lamented today that, although the Conservative government is deriving substantive gains from the exploitation of natural resources, remote communities are left without their fair share in the face of mounting infrastructure problems.
In Norman Wells, North West Territories, citizens might soon lose their electricity supply when Imperial Oil stops supplying the northern community. Local leaders must find millions of dollars of investment to deal with this energy crisis and keep supplying the residents with electricity.
“The Conservative government has been reaping tens of millions of dollars in royalties from oil extraction near Norman Wells”, explained Chow. “Why won’t the Harper Conservatives use those royalties to give back to this community in dire need for help? I am calling today on Stephen Harper to start working right away with the community leaders of Norman Wells and to support their efforts in addressing the pressing energy crisis.”
Remote communities such as Norman Wells are hampered by limited funding opportunities as they seek federal help for basic infrastructure maintenance. The situation is unacceptable according to Chow who recently toured the North West Territories to speak to local leaders.
"It is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure local communities in the resource-rich north receive sustainable funding to tackle their infrastructure needs" added NDP Northern critic Dennis Bevington. “The Conservative government can’t just cash in publicly owned natural resources while leaving local communities with no share at all”.
“There is an urgent need for a predictable long-term financing plan to tackle infrastructure needs, especially in remote and rural communities”, said Chow. “The Harper government must develop a plan to invest in better solutions for all remote northern communities.”