July 10, 2017 - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been responsible for the safety and well-being of Ontario’s citizens for more than one hundred years. Since their creation in 1909, the force has grown to employ over 10,000 employees, serving over 322 communities, and a geographic area of over one million square kilometers (OPPA 2017). With fifty-one detachments in Northern Ontario alone, the OPP are responsible for a large portion of policing for rural and remote communities in Ontario's northern regions. As of 2017, the OPP will face a challenge when over 1,000 of their current 5,300 officers become eligible for retirement (Kirkpatrick 2016, December 15). With approximately 800 uniformed officers serving Northern Ontario, the wave of retirements - expected to begin late this year - will result in one out of every five officers eligible for retirement, or approximately 140 active duty members (OPP 2016). Although the OPP have taken steps to ensure these retirements will not impact service levels, the question becomes, how will the loss of officers and the migration of new OPP members to the north affect police-community relations going forward?
June 26, 2017 - On March 24, the government of New Brunswick announced that they would not only embrace marijuana as a potential creator of revenue and jobs in the country, but went so far as to label weed as a pillar of their economic strategy.
June 19, 2017 - Thunder Bay is a racist community. We hear this all the time. Plus, when idiots throw car parts at pedestrians it is pretty difficult to argue that there are not racists among us. Yet, in my four years in this city, I have been fortunate to meet many people who run welcoming, inclusive organizations. Organizations that work hard to meet the diverse needs of indigenous and immigrant customers and job seekers.
May 29, 2017 - A disagreement between the private industry association that funds municipal recycling programs and the municipalities that operates these programs has contributed to uncertainty about the financial sustainability of recycling in Ontario. New legislation that aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills in the province will attempt to overcome this problem by putting more discretionary power in the hands of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Minister will have broad powers to determine the funding model of recycling programs in the province. But Northern Ontario communities need to be assured that province-wide mandates for waste management funding will take the unique problems faced by northern municipalities into account.
May 15, 2017 - About six years ago, the Government of Ontario launched a project trying to design plans for two regional economic development areas (REDAs) for Northern Ontario: one in the Northwest and one in the Northeast. Not a bad idea. After all, Statistics Canada thinks about us this way. They even helpfully provide data about the economy, workforce, population, health and education levels in these two “economic regions”.
April 18, 2017 - On May 1 and 2 in Toronto, the province will be hosting a major conference on community hubs. Advocates for community hubs, operators of community hubs, users and funders of community hubs will all gather to discuss best practices in funding, regulating, defining and delivering community hubs.
March 27, 2017 - Amandine Martel is a Data Analyst with Northern Policy Institute. A summer internship in Thunder Bay introduced Amandine to Northwestern Ontario and its opportunities and challenges. After graduating from l’Université Laval with an MBA, she decided to return to the north and joined Northern Policy Institute. The strong analysis skills Amandine developed during her studies, as well as her proficiency in French, are assets and are beneficial when collaborating with Francophone stakeholders. Here is Amandine’s story:
March 20, 2017 - It’s been about six months since I have been in the position of Labour Force Researcher for the Thunder Bay District Local Employment Planning Council. To say the least, it has been an eye opening experience to discover the number of support services available for those who are looking to enter the workforce or need help navigating the systems. I can remember when I was young, we learned about resume writing and cover letters in school, but one thing that was missing was providing an understanding of all the systems in place. Think about it, where did you learn how to job search? Or what was it that helped you decide ‘what you wanted to be when you grew up’? Going even further, how did you learn that it was important to wake up and go to work in the morning? What made you get your driver’s license? These are all things that, interestingly enough, come up as barriers to employment for many people who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ per say.
March 6, 2017 - Once again the calls for amalgamating the catholic and secular school boards in Ontario are starting to be heard. The arguments are familiar. Economies of scale at the administrative level. Reduction in duplication of core services (busing, payroll, purchasing). Eliminating wasteful duplication of facilities (gyms, cafeterias, libraries) and, as enrolments keep falling, getting rid of increasingly underutilized classroom space.
February 27, 2017 - We save for retirement. We draw up wills. But how many of us invest the same resources into planning for our own end of life care? For such a significant event in our lives, death is one we appear to give little thought to. In a culture of self-improvement, we seem fixated with living our best lives, but are less concerned with how we are going to die. Perhaps it is because we naively assume that we will die at home or perhaps we are fearful of death and avoid thinking about the topic. Whatever the reason, with an aging population and a financially strained healthcare system, it is one we need to address.