Latest Policy Bytes

Is it time to reincentivize northern relocation?

November 13, 2017 - Incentives matter. If there is one thing that economists can tell policy makers unconditionally, this is it. It seems the message is beginning to get through, at least to local leaders, here in Northern Ontario.

Pulling back the curtain on a Minimum Wage Increase

October 30, 2017 - The minimum wage debate has always been a fierce and passionate one, and understandably so, as it has very direct impacts on many individuals’ lives. The general arguments in favour of raising the minimum wage are that it would put money in the pockets of workers, lifting many out of poverty, without many negative impacts on the economy or labour market. Conversely, the arguments against are that any increase to the minimum wage will result in a significant number of job losses, a push towards increased automation, and subsequently, push more people below the poverty line as businesses let employees go in order to sustain their operations. A review of the evidence would suggest that both of these views are on some level incorrect, but do contain some traces of truth.

Prison Segregation: out of sight is not out of mind

October 23, 2017 - In the fall of 2016, Thunder Bay made headlines when coverage of Adam Capay’s four year stint in segregation at the Thunder Bay Jail hit the press.  Capay, 19 years old at the time of imprisonment, was placed in segregation following a fight which resulted in the death of another inmate. He was charged with first-degree murder and placed in segregation for four years awaiting trial on the new charge.

Five Big Ideas for Northern Ontario

October 10, 2017 - Twice last month, we were challenged to think BIGGER in terms of our vision for the future of our region and our country. First came Dr. David Robinson’s piece in this magazine decrying the incrementalist nature of the recently released provincial multi-modal transportation study. Then came Conrad Black, in the pages of the National Post, reminiscing about the days of real policy debate in this country and putting forward some big ideas of his own for transformational change.

Why we need to be careful in delivering a basic income through the tax system

September 18, 2017 -  It has been nearly a year and half since the Ontario government announced in its 2016 budget that it would proceed with testing a basic income. The pilot communities have now been chosen (Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay), though details on the First Nations community have yet to be released, and some of the details of the basic income model have been announced. While the implementation details on the pilots are still sketchy, the pilot will run for three years and the results will be obtained in 2020 when they will be evaluated by a third-party research group. Based on the results of the pilot, the basic income may be rolled out across the province.

It's Time to Put Your Mouth Where Your Money is

September 11, 2017 - Have you read it yet? Have you taken the time to draft even a short reply to it? Do you know the deadline for comment is the 15th of September? Which of the themes it outlines do you think should be a priority? What about the 37 directions it includes. Too many? Too few?

If you don't North, now you North

September 5, 2017 - Saying goodbye to beach weather, camp (not cottage!) weekends, barbeques, and patios all come with summers end. NPI has even more farewells at the end of August as we say goodbye to our Experience North Summer Placements, who spent their summer working across three locations in Northern Ontario. Whether they were working on website design in Sault Ste. Marie, exploring policy options in Kenora or creating innovative outreach strategies in Thunder Bay, they all had the opportunity to experience all that Northern Ontario has to offer.

'Filling Up': Electric Vehicles in Northern Ontario

August 28, 2017 - Who killed the electric car? Many remember the film by director Chris Paine and its exploration of the electric vehicle industry in North America during the early 2000s. What was once seen as an industry with little chance of growth due to the worlds continuing reliance on oil, and the perception of meddling ‘evil’ resource extracting companies, has begun to, pun intended, switch gears. As Canada celebrates its 150th year since confederation, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have become an enticing option for next generation car buyers. Although electric vehicles (EVs) only accounted for 1% of total new vehicles sales in 2016, they are still making an impact on one of Canada’s largest commercial industries. With electric vehicles sales totaling more than 1,000 units sold per month across Canada, and with Volvo recently announcing all of its new model vehicles will be hybrid, or electric by 2019, it’s safe to say that the green car movement is here to stay.

Perhaps the Answer to Our Skills Gap is Closer Than we Think

August 21, 2017 - According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, 82 percent of their members who reported attempting to hire a new employee during a six month period in 2016 had challenges in doing so. The number one challenge reported was the inability to find someone with suitable qualifications. This finding aligns with previous analysis released by the Chamber and with the larger scale work of people like Rick Miner, author of The Great Canadian Skills Mismatch: People without Jobs, Jobs Without People.