SUDBURY -- Mining safety program headquartered in Sudbury gets $8 million from the province to help protect workers in an emergency.

The new funding was announced Wednesday morning at Workplace Safety North's annual Virtual Mining Health and Safety Conference.

"Mining has been the backbone of northern Ontario's economy for generations and we owe it to workers to make sure they come home safely to their families every night," said Monte McNaughton, Ontario's minister of labour, training and skills development. "As more mining sites come into operation, this funding will ensure we can provide the resources and training needed so more brave women and men can re-enter mines in emergencies and save lives."

The Ontario Mine Rescue Program was started after a fire at the Hollinger Mine in Timmins in 1928 that killed 39 workers. There are now eight rescue stations, seven in northern Ontario, located in Sudbury, Levack, Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Wawa, Thunder Bay, Red Lake, and Delaware, Ont. Approximately 900 volunteers are currently certified in mine rescue with 40 active mining operations in the province.

The program trains volunteer first responders, certifies rescue equipment and advises during mining emergencies.

"The additional funding will allow the Mine Rescue Program to increase training hours for volunteers and develop specialized programs to better support rescue capacity for all surface mines and mining plants, including at newly expanded and newly opened sites," the province said in a news release Wednesday.

"Ontario is home to a world-class mining sector, known for its safe and responsible mining practices," said Greg Rickford, minister of energy, northern development and mines. "Our mining industry operates according to the highest standards and is subject to the strictest rules and laws. By strengthening our mine rescue capacity, we are sending a strong signal to the world that Ontario is a safe and ideal jurisdiction for mining activity."