Northern Policy Institute
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Our Mission

To develop and promote proactive, evidence-based and purpose driven policy options that deepen understanding about the unique challenges and opportunities of Northern Ontario and advance the sustainable development and long-term prosperity of Northern Ontario.

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Recent News

Northern Policy Institute provides a new lens for Northern Ontario: This month, Northern Policy Institute released a new research report that examines Northern Ontario alongside other northern jurisdictions around the world. The report, A New Northern Lens: Looking out is as important as looking in, was researched and written by David MacKinnon, Fellow in Comparative Growth with Northern Policy Institute, and was published on April 16, 2015.  Through a comparative analysis of Northern Ontario alongside other northern regions such as Nunavut, Alaska, Siberia, Scandinavia, and Iceland, MacKinnon outlines 10 recommendations for moving the region toward a brighter future of economic success, social stability, and innovative resource management. For more information, read out press release.

Northern Policy Institute tours Northwestern Ontario: From April 7-9, Northern Policy Institute staff and Board of Directors travelled to Kenora, ON for the 2015 Board of Directors meeting. During our visit in Kenora, staff and Directors toured the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, the Weyerhaeuser Timberstand Facility, and the Confederation College campus. The City of Kenora and the Kenora Chamber of Commerce also hosted a networking mixer at Cabin Jack’s with Northern Policy Institute, which saw over 30 people attend and included remarks from Kenora MP, Greg Rickford, and Kenora Mayor, Dave Canfield. Following the meeting, several Northern Policy Institute staff members also visited Red Lake and Ear Falls before returning to Thunder Bay. The staff and directors at Northern Policy Institute would like to extend our gratitude to the City of Kenora, our tour guides, and the people of Northwestern Ontario for their hospitality and welcoming us into their communities.

Northern Policy Institute provides update to Timmins Chamber of Commerce: On April 20, Northern Policy Institute President and CEO, Charles Cirtwill, and Northern Policy Institute Vice-Chair, Thérèse Bergeron-Hopson, provided an update to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee. The presentation included information on upcoming research and publications, opportunities to get involved on the Board of Directors, the Advisory Council, and the Research Advisory Board, and the 2015 Summer Internship Program. For more information, view the slide show presentation.

Northern Policy Institute president provides update to NOMA: During the Northern Ontario Municipal Association annual conference on April 23 in Thunder Bay, ON, Northern Policy Institute President and CEO, Charles Cirtwill, provided an update on Northern Policy Institute. Cirtwill’s talk included a discussion of recent publications, as well as upcoming research, the 2015 Summer Internship Program, and future publications. For photos from the event, click here.

Author David MacKinnon speaks to new Northern Lens in Parry Sound: On April 27, Northern Policy Institute Senior Fellow, David MacKinnon, was a guest speaker at a dinner hosted by the Parry Sound Area Community Business & Development Centre Inc. MacKinnon discussed his recent research paper, A New Northern Lens: Looking out is as important as looking in, and how Northern Ontario stacks up against other northern regions around the world in terms of its economic performance. Mackinnon also outlined how developments in other northern regions and in the rest of the world will be more important than local and provincial policies in shaping the region's future and how it must do more to be open to these developments. To see photos from MacKinnon’s talk, click here.


In the Media: David MacKinnon’s research report, A New Northern Lens: Looking out is as important as looking in, generated a lot of media coverage throughout Northern Ontario. The report received coverage in The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay, which generated a second story that included a response to the report from Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North. The report was also featured in The Sault Star in Sault Ste. Marie, Radio-Canada in Sudbury, Country 104.3FM in Sault Ste. Marie, and Cirtwill appeared on the Thunder Bay Television Newshour to discuss the findings of the report. In addition to the media coverage, an op-ed, A New lens for Northern Ontario, written by MacKinnon and Cirtwill that expands on the recommendations introduced in the paper, was published in The Chronicle-Journal and The North Bay Nugget.

An op-ed written by Rick Millette, Senior Executive Director: Ring of Fire with Northern Policy Institute, was also featured in The Chronicle-Journal on April 5, 2015. Millette’s latest op-ed, A New Deal for the Ring of Fire, discusses some of the recent positive moves in the proposed Ring of Fire mining development, such as the move by Noront Resources to buy the claims of Cliffs Natural Resources in the Ring of Fire and the announcement of a road study for an East-West link to First Nations communities. Millette argues that this momentum needs to be seized, which could help move the project forward.

Media coverage for Dr. Bakhtiar Moazzami’s research report, It’s What You Know (And Where You Can Go): Human capital and agglomeration effects on demographic trends in Northern Ontario, which was published on March 31, 2015, continued in April. The report was covered in The Chronicle-Journal, Northern Life in Sudbury, Country 104.3FM in Sault Ste. Marie, Northern Sun News, and Country 105FM in Thunder Bay.

Visit our website for a complete list of all media coverage.

What’s Next?

Events: This month, Northern Policy Institute will be welcoming several new interns who will be participating in our 2015 Summer Internship Program. Three interns will be working out of the Sudbury office, three in the Thunder Bay office, and two in Sault Ste. Marie. The interns will be working on a number of projects from May through August. The summer internship program is a great way to engage youth on important policy developments in Northern Ontario, while also providing excellent experience in policy, research, publishing, and communication. We would like to thank the Shingwauk Residential School Centre for housing our summer interns in Sault Ste. Marie. You will meet all of our new interns in next month’s newsletter.

On May 6, Northern Policy Institute President and CEO, Charles Cirtwill, will be giving a presentation during the Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA) conference, Planting the Seeds of CESBA North, in Toronto. The session will include administrators of Adult and Continuing Education school boards in the North, who will be discussing specific challenges and opportunities in the north, how to improve programming for learners in the north, developing strategic partnerships, and new trends in education programming. Cirtwill’s talk, Education trends and Policy Research in Northern Ontario – An Introduction, will provide an overview of Northern Policy Institute and our recent research on labour and demographics, and will include a discussion of some of the larger educational trends in Northern Ontario.

Cirtwill and Northern Policy Institute chair, Martin Bayer, will also be providing an update on Northern Policy Institute during the 2015 Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) Northeastern Municipal Conference in Sudbury, ON from May 6-8. Other presentations will include an update on the future of hospitals in Northeastern Ontario, an update on the Provincial Land Tax Reform, concurrent education sessions, an update from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, and a Minister’s forum. For more information, visit

On May 28, Northern Policy Institute, along with the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, will be hosting the Breakfast with Champions: In the Middle of Somewhere with John van Nostrand. Van Nostrand will provide an overview of development within the Mid-Canada Corridor and he will discuss how developments in the corridor, which includes Northern Ontario, will impact not only the economic future, but the people as well. For more information and to register, click here. 


In May, Northern Policy Institute will be publishing a commentary by James Cuddy, Research Coordinator with Northern Policy Institute, which examines the Northeastern Ontario labour market. Cuddy’s commentary is the second paper in a two part series. The first commentary, Settling Down in the Northwest: Stability and Opportunity in the Northwestern Ontario Labour Market, was published on March 20 and examines the labour market in Northwestern Ontario. The papers focus on population, employment, participation, unemployment, and trends specific to the youth labour market. According to the upcoming paper, Northeastern Ontario is showing signs for growth despite facing challenges.

Northern Policy Institute will also be releasing a research report on the structure of FedNor. Researched and written by Charles Conteh, this report will provide a critique of the institutional infrastructure of FedNor’s economic development policy intervention and how it compares to other regional agencies, such as the Western Economic Diversification Canada in Manitoba and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in New Brunswick.

Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog was written by Charles Cirtwill, Northern Policy Institute President and CEO. Cirtwill’s blog, The Grass Isn’t Always Greener, was first published in Northern Ontario Business and argues that young people should not be rushing to leave the region for so called greener pastures somewhere else. According to Cirtwill, there are plenty of opportunities for youth right in their own back yard.

“According to Statistics Canada, since 2009 Northeastern Ontario has had more youth in the workforce, more youth working, and fewer youth unemployed than either the province of Ontario or the country as a whole. Northeastern Ontario has been at or above the provincial and national average on these measures for over five years. In Northwestern Ontario that has been the case, with a few dips here and there, since at least the year 2000 [. . .] The message is pretty unequivocal; if you are young, looking to get a start on life, you should seriously consider living, learning, and working in the north.”

Click here to read the full blog.

Getting to Know Us

Board of Directors – Ron Arnold: Ron Arnold is the President of a Sudbury-based construction company, Dalron Construction Limited, a position he has held since 1969. Locally, he was also a past president of the Sudbury & District Home Builders Association and has served on the boards of the Sudbury & District Chamber of Commerce, Science North and the Sudbury Regional Development Corporation. Mr. Arnold has also served as a director of junior resource issuers on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the TSX Venture Exchange, including Titanium Corporation, Independent Nickel Corporation, Duncan Park Holdings Corporation and Manitou Gold Inc.

The Board of Directors sets strategic direction, approves the budget and the business plan, receives and approves financial reports and audited financial statements. Directors are members of operational standing committees in areas of finance, governance, Director nomination and development. They hold the CEO accountable. Their principal responsibility is to protect and promote the interests, reputation and stature of Northern Policy Institute and are not permitted to advocate for individual or special interests. To learn more about our other Board of Directors, click here.

Get Involved

Northern Policy Institute depends on effectively engaging with policymakers and the general public. There are lots of ways for you to get involved: 
Send all applications, comments, and questions to
Northern Policy Institute is Northern Ontario's independent think tank.  We develop and promote research, evidence and policy opportunities to support the growth of sustainable northern Ontario communities.  

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