Latest Policy Bytes

A Vulnerable North: Lyme disease in Canada

December 8, 2014 - In recent years, the habitat of deer ticks from the south has begun to edge into more northern environments. This expansion, estimated at up to 46km/yr, is believed to have resulted from a combination of climate change and transport by ticks using white-footed mice and migratory birds[i]. With the ticks, comes a burgeoning threat to northerners, namely the potentially debilitating pathogens that reside within a percentage of the tick population (varying from 1% to over 60% depending on host availability)[ii]. The most concerning of these is the spirochete (corkscrew-shaped bacterium) borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, an illness on the rise in Canada due to the spread of deer ticks.

Is Northern Ontario's population aging, or is it just getting less young?

December 1, 2014 - Canada’s aging population is not a new phenomenon. The process will inevitably lead to higher pension and health care costs, as well as a smaller tax base to pay for these costs. The demographic shift will impact consumption, investments, savings, expenditures, labour, and more. Although some believe there are silver linings to all of this – such as declining labour shortages or better quality of life – the general outlook is an added strain on growth and the overall economy.

Canary in a Gold Mine

November 25, 2014 - Some truths are difficult to point out, especially when your love of something complicates it more. In this case, my love of the north and wanting it to succeed is being undermined by the rest of the world falling out of love with our resources.

Genetically Modified Foods Not the Solution for Sustainable Agriculture in Northern Ontario

November 17, 2014 - Northern Ontario has always been the source of a vast amount of natural resources. These resources are generally focused on mining and forestry. However, another less publicized resource is becoming a more important contributor to the well-being of the region: agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs state that there is considerable potential for agriculture in Northern Ontario[1]. However, the harsh Northern Ontario climate can be a barrier to agriculture in the region as it shortens the farming season and increases the occurrence of frost, which results in a low crop yield.

Will the Ring of Fire Create a New Community for Ontario?

November 10, 2014 - Fly in. Fly out. It’s been the mantra of remote mines since governments and industry realized they were often left holding the bag for mining towns when the minerals were gone. Roads, water systems and schools remained but were not sustainable by the few taxpayers left behind.

Funding Interprofessional Primary Care (IPC) In Ontario

November 3, 2014 - According to a recent report compiled by the Ontario Medical Association, 4,266 physicians, (52 per cent of all physicians today), and roughly 8.6 million patients are committed to a practice in an interprofessional primary care model.[i] The IPC model of healthcare was designed for several reasons, but primarily to provide patients with improved integrated access to care during evenings and weekends, and to encourage physicians to accept new patients.  This innovative model was contingent on transforming the methods in which primary care is funded. As the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association collaboratively move forward in its primary-care reform initiatives, there is a need to take a balanced view of not only the needs of the province’s physicians with those of the patients, but to access the systems accountability to taxpayers as well. Consequently, it is important to identify the payment methods currently in use, determine what so far might be problematic, and provide evidence-based recommendations in an attempt to monitor the vitals of such an essential system.

Rail Decisions in Canada – Part 3 of 3

October 24, 2014 - Policy decisions shaped Canada’s rail system and helped define northern Ontario’s development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were models of intelligent public policy.  Others were questionable, but ultimately bore fruit when subsequent decisions corrected their flaws.

Rail Decisions in Canada – Part 1 of 3

October 20, 2014 - Some members of the transportation policy community see big decisions looming for Canada’s rail industry. This is particularly so in Northern Ontario, where questions will have to be answered not just about the federally-regulated transcontinental and short line carriers, but also the province’s Ontario Northland and federally-owned VIA Rail Canada.  Add to this the transportation choices to enable the Ring of Fire’s development.