Worrisome trends for the economic future of the North

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Northern College has released an in-depth economic study outlining the main obstacles to economic expansion and recovery in Northern Ontario following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The 24-page study, titled Coming Back From Covid: A Plan to Rebuild Northern Ontario, was created in partnership with the StrategyCorp Institute of Public Policy and Economy, and was designed to provide insight into past, current and economic issues. future we are facing. through northern Ontario.

“As a college, it is essential for our continued functioning to have a solid and current understanding of the economic situation of our served region, the labor market and all of the issues facing members of our communities,” said said Dr. Audrey J. Penner, President and CEO of Northern College. “This understanding allows us to work even more closely with employers and members of government to ensure that Northern College continues to meet the needs of its learners and industry partners to create a workforce. qualified and stable.

The in-depth study combines historical trends to support more current statistics in an effort to create a solid picture of the employment and population problems that have become common across Northern Ontario.

Tracing employment trends since 1986, the document describes an overall decline in both the population and the number of employees. In 1986, Northern Ontario had 6.2 percent of Ontario’s population; by 2016, that number had fallen to 4%.

“Even more dire population projections for the Ontario Ministry of Finance district predict that over the next 20 years, the region will continue to lose people in almost all age groups except people aged 65 and over, ”the study said, using District of Timiskaming as a case study. “Ultimately, the population of the District of Timiskaming is expected to grow from approximately 32,500 to 28,900 during this period, while the percentage of seniors will drop from 22.6% to 31.6%.

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The research project expands its scope to describe the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and what is needed for the region to recover from this unprecedented health and socio-economic event.

“Despite the resilience of the resource sector, the North has seen its unemployment rate drop from 5.1% in January 2020 to 9.3% in May. The participation rate fell 5.6 percent and some 18,900 people were left unemployed. While certainly disturbing, this story was not necessarily different from what the rest of Ontario was going through, ”the document said. “The divergence would appear in the recovery from the pandemic. According to the Ontario Economic Report 2021 from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, job growth in every region of southern Ontario was at least double the growth in northeastern Ontario. Ontario during the period of pandemic recovery.

To make matters worse, Northeastern Ontario’s expected 0.1% population growth was the lowest of any region, including non-GTA regions like London which is expected to grow 1.2%. Adds the study.

The Northern College commissioned the study to help address growing concerns expressed by industry partners, nonprofits, economic and employment service providers, as well as municipal partners.

“We hope that this study and its findings will end up on the desks of all provincial and federal ministers,” said Dr. Penner. “We send a rocket saying something needs to be done. While we know the history of Northern Ontario and the influence it exerts on the well-being of so many, it is our intention that by standing up as high and as uniformly as possible, we can create the kind of change that will see a prosperous future for this region.

“Our communities and the region of northeastern Ontario are home to 90 percent of the province’s active mining operations, and soon these operations will face an unprecedented job shortage if more is not granted.” attention to the northern parts of the province. This research lays the foundation and the direction for that to happen, ”added Penner.

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