March 2022 | Ontario 360/ Charles Cirtwill
Northern Ontario is growing. Between 2016 and 2021, population in seven of the eleven census districts in Northern Ontario experienced population growth. These are positive developments and a sign that regional development in Northern Ontario is indeed possible.The key to future, sustainable, economic opportunities in Northern Ontario is to maintain and accelerate this population growth. People, after all, are the key to economic prosperity, social improvements, and environmental protection.
How do you attract, and retain, the necessary population in these diverse and geographically dispersed regions? By connecting them, to each other and to the rest of the world through a commitment to public investments in digital and physical infrastructure. A Northern infrastructure agenda must account for (1) changing infrastructure needs and (2) the role of government and the role of markets in financing, delivering, and maintaining modern infrastructure assets.
This piece sets out the need for public investments in digital and physical infrastructure to boost economic growth in Northern Ontario. In practice, this would then mean working with the federal government and the private sector to leverage provincial investments to achieve a more ambitious target.