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Cut in federal funding concerns forestry minister.

Cut in federal funding concerns forestry minister

Changes proposed to strengthen the federal role in forestry are not a big issue between Ontario and Ottawa.

"Frankly, we're more interested in dealing with the Canada-Ontario forest resource development agreement," said Bud Wildman, the province's Minister of Natural Resources.

Wildman noted that the terms which the federal government has offered the province for renewal of the agreement would mean only one-third of the previous funding would be provided.

The five-year arrangement, which involved money for silviculture and research and development, expired about one year ago.

The previous deal was for $150 million, funded on an equal basis by the province and Ottawa.

In a telephone interview in late January, Wildman said the federal government was offering to commit just $25 million this time around.

The negotiations have been informal, and nothing was in writing, he noted.

However, he said the federal offer was presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, and the province responded that it was not enough.

Wildman questioned why federal funding for Ontario would be cut by two-thirds when Ottawa reached a deal with British

Columbia in which hat province's funding was reduced by less than that amount.

No other meetings were set to discuss the issue, the minister noted. "We are not really talking to them about it."

While not his main concern, Wildman did say that a restructured federal Department of Forestry would be welcomed if it means more funding for research and development and an increased national profile for forestry.

However, the minister said it remains to be seen how a more powerful department would affect relations with the provinces, which actually own natural resources, including forests.

"The federal forestry department now, in terms of the federal government bureaucracy, is not very significant," Wildman observed.

Increasing the power of the federal Department of Forestry was the main thrust of a recent House of Commons report.
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Title Annotation:Report on Forestry; Bud Wildman, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Words:317
Previous Article:Management agreements to become part of sustainable development.
Next Article:Deadline extension available.
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