Latest Policy Bytes

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.

You Can Get a Job AND an Education

July 17, 2017 - I realize this may come as a shock to some, but it is possible for post-secondary institutions to provide students with what is known as a classical education AND to prepare them for employment. It is equally possible, indeed necessary, to develop critical thinking skills while also learning a trade.

North for the North: Recruiting for the Future

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?

Welcoming Workplaces in Thunder Bay

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.

Cost Funding under the new Recycling Legislation: A WASTE of time for Northern Ontario?

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.

Are we Thinking About Northern Ontario All Wrong?

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”.