About Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario extends from Parry Sound and Nipissing to the shores of Hudson Bay and James Bay and all the way to the border with Manitoba in the west. It is home to:

  • approximately 807,000 people
  • 109 First Nation communities
  • 16 Métis Nation of Ontario Community Councils.

Ontario’s Far North stretches from Manitoba in the west to James Bay and Quebec in the east and is home to 24,000 people, 90 per cent of them First Nation peoples.

The transportation network in the North covers a vast area and includes:

  • 11,000+
    kilometres of provincial highways
  • 118
    rest areas along provincial highways, with plans to build ten new rest areas over the next five years
  • 65
    public airports, including 29 remote airports

The transportation network also includes:

  • local road network including winter roads
  • five intercommunity bus companies
  • Polar Bear Express train from Cochrane to Moosonee
  • key marine ports in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Meldrum Bay

Our plan

Connecting the North: A Draft Transportation Plan for Northern Ontario will:

  • expand highways and transit services
  • connect remote and First Nation communities
  • help build a better transportation network for the region

The plan includes more than 60 transportation improvements that will:

  • get people moving and connect communities
  • enable economic opportunities
  • keep people safe and provide reliable transportation options
  • prepare for the future
  • maintain a sustainable transportation system
  • provide reliable travel options for remote and Far North communities

We established the Northern Ontario Transportation Task Force to ensure regional transportation planning in the north Ontario is informed by local needs and priorities.

Read the final report

Key transportation improvements

To deliver on our plan to improve transportation in the north, we will:

Aerial view of a wildlife crossing bridge over Highway 69 in the Burwash area south of Sudbury.

Expand highways

  • Advance design work for the widening of Highway 69 from two to four lanes
  • Continue to work with Indigenous communities to move forward with the widening of Highway 17 from Kenora to the Manitoba border
  • Advance the widening of Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon

Ontario Northland Transportation Commission bus driving along a highway.

Enhance transit

  • Continue to move forward on plan for passenger rail services including advancing track audit work along the northeastern rail corridor
  • Continue new Ontario Northland Transportation Commission bus routes between White River and Thunder Bay, and between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg

A photograph of a car at a rest area.

Improve rest areas

  • Build new and enhanced rest areas including safety improvements and expanded truck parking

A photograph of a road.

Maintain local roads

  • commit $5.5 million annually to fund basic on-reserve road construction and maintenance projects in participating First Nation communities through the First Nations Road Program