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.
February 13, 2017 - Near the end of 2016, Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Finance Minister, gave a talk in Thunder Bay. As far as standard talks go, it was a pretty good one. Something happened, however, during the question and answer period that I found quite unsettling. It wasn’t something Sousa did - it was something several leading members of the Thunder Bay community did.
January 30, 2017 - “The grass is always greener,” is a sentiment echoed by many northerners in regards to employment opportunities and salaries in the region. Many young workers have their eyes set on Southern Ontario in the hopes of finding a job with high wages, leaving the north behind for greener pastures.
January 16, 2017 - Here’s a puzzle: 20 percent of Indigenous “tourism businesses…are located in… British Columbia,” which attracts “one in four visitors.” At the same time, Ontario has 31 percent of all Indigenous tourism businesses in Canada, yet two percent of visitors from their “key markets…experienced [Indigenous] culture” in 2012. This difference means that Northern Ontario’s Indigenous tourism industry has plenty of room to grow. Since British Columbia enjoys a higher demand for this type of tourism, it can offer several best practices to create a more dynamic Indigenous tourism sector in the North. These lessons can provide positive spillovers such as increased revenue, a larger and more diverse economy, and stronger social ties amongst communities and First Nations.
January 9, 2017 - The Ontario Medical Association celebrated the holidays in 2016 by sending nicely wrapped boxes of red tape to MPPs. The gifts were a protest about the new regulations and red tape that the OMA said would result from the passage of Bill 41. These types of protests are not new. Every regulated industry and occupation complain bitterly about onerous or outdated regulation.