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

This Month

Meetings about the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario generate important discussions on Northern Issues: Northern Policy Institute, in partnership with The Mowat Centre, reached out to the people of Northern Ontario for feedback on the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario and were pleased to learn that the people have a lot to say. On January 21, 2015, Northern Policy Institute hosted three in-person consultations with stakeholders from the private sector, municipal and not-for-profit sector, and youth in Thunder Bay. The sessions explored affordable housing, federal transfers, child care, transportation strategies, value added industrial strategies, and supports for Aboriginal youth.

On January 21, Northern Policy Institute hosted a Leader’s Luncheon along with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce in Thunder Bay. The Leader’s Luncheon featured a presentation by Sunil Johal, Policy Director with the Mowat Centre. Over 30 people attended the luncheon and brought forward issues ranging from taxation to transfers to predictable funding for infrastructure investment.

Click here to watch a video of Johal’s presentation during the luncheon on our Youtube Channel. Click here to view photos from the events.

The following week, Northern Policy Institute hosted a Leader’s Breakfast in Sault Ste. Marie, along with the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce on January 28. The breakfast included a presentation by Northern Policy Institute president, Charles Cirtwill, on the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario. Over 25 people attended the breakfast and discussed issues including workforce development, immigration, and education. On January 29, additional consultations were held in Sudbury with stakeholders from the Greater Sudbury area.

Initial feedback for the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario reveals that there are several key issues that are top of mind for the people of Northern Ontario. In Northeastern Ontario, FedNor, infrastructure, and transfer payments are listed as the top issues, while in Northwestern Ontario, infrastructure, workforce development, and energy are the most pressing concerns. To learn more about what people are saying in the Northwest and Northeast, read our press releases about some of the preliminary feedback:

Northwestern Ontario Press Release

Northeastern Ontario Press Release

The information collected so far will be used to create the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario, with an anticipated release in April, 2015. To read The Mowat Centre’s initial discussion paper on the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario, click here.

Northern Policy Institute president discusses post-secondary education: On January 23, 2015, Charles Cirtwill gave a presentation at Confederation College on the factors impacting post-secondary education in Northern Ontario. The presentation looked at enrollment rates, graduation rates, graduate satisfaction rates, and education inflation. Cirtwill concluded that Confederation College is on the right track and that its strategic directions reflect the known realities. To view Cirtwill’s presentation to Confederation College, click here.

Northern Policy Institute gives update to Ambassadors Northwest: On January 8, 2015, Cirtwill gave an update on the Institute to Ambassadors Northwest. To see a copy of the presentation, click here.

In the Media: The consultations for the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario held throughout the month of January generated a great deal of media coverage in the Northwest.

Leading up to the stakeholder consultations and the Leader’s Luncheon on January 21, the Chronicle-Journal and NetNewsedger ran advance stories on the sessions. You can read the story in the Chronicle-Journal here and the story in NetNewsledger here.  

Northern Policy Institute president, Charles Cirtwill, was also featured on Wawatay Radio, where he spoke with Denise Hardy for nearly an hour about the purpose of the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario, the importance of a strong First Nations voice in the agenda, and how people can submit feedback.

On the morning of January 21, Charles Cirtwill was a guest on the CBC Radio One program, Superior Morning, in Thunder Bay. Cirtwill discussed the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario and encouraged the public to send in their feedback and ideas to ensure that Northern Ontario is strongly featured in the final agenda. You can listen to the full interview here.

The actual Leader’s Luncheon was covered by The Source and Thunder Bay Television News. Cirtwill and Sunil Johal, Policy Director with the Mowat Centre, were interviewed and featured on the Thunder Bay Television News Hour. Johal and Cirtwill spoke to the importance of the Federal Economic Agenda, while also highlighting some of the key issues being brought forward in the North, such as infrastructure concerns.  You can watch the full news hour here and read the story in The Source here.

Following initial consultations for the Federal Economic Agenda for Ontario, NetNewsledger posted a story outlining some of the top issues people in Northwestern Ontario would like to see addressed by the agenda. You can read the full story here.

The Chronicle-Journal also ran a short piece following the consultations in Thunder Bay to remind people that Northern Policy Institute is seeking input from people throughout the entire region. Most of the initial feedback received in the Northwest has been from the Thunder Bay area and Northern Policy Institute issued a press release outlining some of the top issues raised so far and encouraging people from other parts of the region to submit their own ideas and feedback as well. You can read the story in the Chronicle-Journal here.

The consultations held in Sault Ste. Marie also received coverage by the local media. The sessions were covered by Country 104.3FM in Sault Ste. Marie and the story includes an audio interview with Charles Cirtwill and can be found here. The online newspaper, SooToday, also featured a story on the consultation and Cirtwill’s presentation. You can read the full story here.

The feedback collected so far by Northern Policy Institute has generated discussions about Northern issues in the region. In a story appearing in the Kapuskasing Times, Kapuskasing mayor, Alan Spacek, commented that FedNor has done a lot to help communities in Northeastern Ontario. You can read the full story here.

What’s Next?

Events: From February 22 to 24, the Ontario Good Roads Association and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association will be hosting its annual conference in Toronto. Rick Millette, Senior Executive Director: Ring of Fire, with Northern Policy Institute, will be part of a workshop panel discussing development and growth, specifically the Ring of Fire. The conference will focus on rebooting Ontario’s municipal sector, including workshops on asset management, communications, development and growth, rural innovation, and transportation. It will also include a keynote address from Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research. For more information on the conference, click here.

Latest Research

This month, Northern Policy Institute will be releasing a two-part report on the labour markets in Northwestern and Northeastern Ontario. Researched and written by Research Coordinator, James Cuddy, these reports provide an overview of the underlying trends and characteristics for understanding regional growth.

Featured Blog

The months featured blog was written by Julien Bonin, Researcher with Northern Policy Institute. Julien’s latest blog looks at the issue of public transportation in the Greater Sudbury area. In Public Transportation Not Just an Urban Concern, Julien argues that in Northern Ontario, rural and small communities should not be left out in the cold when it comes to access to public transportation.


“The need and effectiveness of public transportation is difficult to quantify as its significance is more than simply the number of riders or a balanced budget. Public transportation for small and rural communities have numerous benefits such as improving the social well-being of residents, reducing automobile dependency (and decreasing its associated environmental impacts) and improving the local economy.”

Click here to read the full blog.


Getting to Know Us

Research Advisory Board: Livio Di Matteo: A Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, Di Matteo is a Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he specializes in public policy, health economics, public finance, and economic history. His recent research has focused on health care spending and its sustainability.

Di Matteo is a member of the CIHI National Health Expenditure Advisory Panel, the Evidence Network, and is a contributor to the economics blog Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.

He has been listed in Canadian Who’s Who since 1995 and holds a PhD from McMaster University, an MA from the University of Western Ontario, and a BA from Lakehead University.

The Research Advisory Board is a group of academic researchers who provide guidance and input on potential research directions, potential authors, and draft studies and commentaries. They are Northern Policy Institute’s formal link to the academic community. To learn more about other members of the Research Advisory Board, click here.

Get Involved

Employment Opportunities: Northern Policy is excited to be offering several internship positions this summer in locations throughout Northern Ontario. There is one communications and one public relations internship available in our Thunder Bay office, and policy internships available in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Dryden. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in Northern Ontario, learn about Northern issues, and be part of a dedicated team at Northern Ontario’s very own independent think tank. The deadline for applications is March 13, 2015. Internships start on May 4, 2015 and end on August 28, 2015. For more information on the internships available and how to apply, visit our Employment Opportunities page.

Northern Policy Institute is also hiring a full-time policy analyst in Sudbury. Policy analysts will have knowledge of and experience with private and public data sets, as well as experience with data presentation and analysis. Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2015. For more information and how to apply, click here.  

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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