From north Toronto to Northern Ontario
CMJWhat work did you do before your current job?
Herbert I started out as a social worker and a community development officer in Scarborough and Jane/Finch [in Toronto]. From there I entered the civil service and have had progressive career enhancement, primarily through the Ministry of Community & Social Services in working on social programs.
CMJWhat skills did you bring to your current job?
Herbert The traditional public service skills–what I call ‘inside baseball skills’: how to support a government in doing its business, and how to ensure that you’ve got good program management and delivery of your legislation.
I wanted to come to the Ministry of Northern Development & Mines. Part of that comes from just loving Northern Ontario. The issues of working with economic development (the other part of my job here) initially drew me more than the mining portfolio. It’s been terrific to learn all about mining in Ontario and to meet this wonderful group of people who are in the mining industry.
There is a role for every deputy to be a bridge between the civil service and the government, and to be a bridge to the politics of the government. You have to look for opportunities to both help the government see where it needs to head, and at the same time understand that your job is to implement their decisions. It is the general stewardship of an agenda that’s positive for mining and positive for the north.
A typical week’s not all meetings. It is very much about planning and listening to people. I spend a fair chunk of time with the Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council [OMICC].
My first priority when I entered the ministry was to help implement the government’s overall Northern Prosperity Plan, which we’ve been doing over the past year. My biggest recent priority has been the proposed Mineral Development Strategy for Ontario. Ontario’s been without one and we want to stay on the competitive edge. There’ll be a lot of follow-up work to that.
CMJWhat would you like to accomplish while you’re in this post?
Herbert On the mining side, I want to see the proposed Mineral Development Strategy implemented.
I want the mining sector to view Ontario as a competitive and a good place to do business, for both mining and exploration.
I hope to see a large part of the far north mapped, to increase our understanding of the potential of the far north, and to be able to have some informed discussion with both the aboriginal people on their traditional lands and exploration companies.
I’d like the mining industry, with the Minister’s assistance, to be seen as the industry it is: a modern mining industry of value to the economy of this province, a significant contributor to economic wealth, and a leader on the environmental and sustainability side.
I’d like to continue the work of the OMICC, because they’re doing significant work on how we increase export of mining knowledge, equipment and supplies; and how we can commercialize mining knowledge and mining products into other activities.
CMJ Is there any personal message that you would like to convey to our readers?
Herbert Thank you for the work that you do every day, which is terrific work and makes a significant contribution to the country and to the province.
The other message is, continue to work with the ministry and Ontario. When people come into our offices, they need to know that the minister of Northern Development & Mines is there to support them and to work with them. If there are things that we can do that will improve and support mining in the province, they should be talking to us.
Suzanne Herbert can be reached at [email protected]