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

Public Information Session A Big Success: On October 8, Northern Policy Institute hosted a public information session at the Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout. Over 30 people attended the session, including Northern Policy Institute members, directors, key stakeholders from throughout the region, and the general public. This was our fifth public information session in Northern Ontario. These sessions not only allow us to meet the people in the communities that we serve, it also provides us with a great opportunity to learn about the issues that matter to the region.

Our time in Sioux Lookout also included Northern Policy Institute’s first Annual General Meeting, two director’s meetings, a staff retreat, a tour of the Meno Ya Win Health Centre and Queen Elizabeth District High School. You can see some of the photos from our tours here.

Northern Policy Institute participates in Ontario Economic Summit: On October 24, Northern Policy Institute president, Charles Cirtwill, served as a lead discussant during the 2014 Ontario Economic Summit in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The panel discussion, entitled, “The Federal Role in Ontario’s Road from Recovery to Growth,” also included Matthew Mendelsohn of the Mowat Centre and Jamison Steeve of the Martin Prosperity Institute. The discussion covered the federal government’s role in Ontario’s economic recovery and what federal public policy adjustments are required to help Ontario businesses compete and generate wealth. The Northern Policy Institute is partnering with the Mowat Centre and the Martin Prosperity Institute on a project to define an “Ontario Economic Agenda” for the federal elections in 2015. In Niagara the three groups released a discussion paper and invited everyone to offer their comments.

You can find a copy of the discussion paper on our website here. We encourage you to read it and offer us your thoughts on how the federal government can best contribute to future growth in Northern Ontario.
We will also be taking this consultation on the road, so watch for us this spring as we come to communities near you to get your ideas face to face.

Authors attend Education Conference: Paul Bennett and Jonathan Anuik, co-authors of the latest Northern Policy Institute research report, “Picking up the Pieces: A Community-School Based Approach to First Nations Education Renewal,” attended the Canadian History of Education Association Conference in Saskatoon, SK. The conference, "Regulations, Resistances, and Reconciliations: Histories of Education" included a panel discussion with Bennett and Anuik on educational devolution and community-based schooling with a focus on First Nations education policy initiatives from 1972 to 2013. Their research report was also distributed to over 90 delegates attending the conference from across the country.

In the Media: A new blog published on the Northern Policy Institute website has generated a lot of interest in the mining community throughout Ontario. Rick Millette’s blog, “Stainless Steel and the Ring of Fire,” has been posted to the mining forum, Republic of Mining. You can see it here.

What’s Next?

Events: In order to engage our region’s young professionals, SHIFT and Northern Policy Institute are pleased to be co-hosting a public policy roundtable at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery on November 13. Northern Policy Institute will share with SHIFT members the most urgent issues facing our communities, which have been identified by our stakeholders from across Northern Ontario.

The event will consist of six separate round table discussions exploring the areas of focus in Northern Policy Institute’s five year business plan: Aboriginal peoples, communities, demographics, economy, environment, and infrastructure.

Each table will be invited to identify as many pressing policy ideas or exciting new opportunities in their selected area as they can, and then rank their top three - the ones most in need of public discussion and evidence based exploration. The list that results will be used to help guide the work of Northern Policy Institute going forward. For more information click here.

We hope this event will be a model for future events in other communities. If you would like us to come to your area and engage with you and your community directly, just email us at

Latest Research

Northern Policy Institute is currently working on several areas of research, including labour markets in Northern Ontario, the organizational structure of FedNor, distributed generation, and labour supply. This is in addition to future areas of study, which include transportation infrastructure in Northern Ontario, the cost of fuel, a comparative study of Northern Ontario and other northern communities around the world, and the cost of food in the north.

Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog was written by James Cuddy, a senior policy analyst with Northern Policy Institute. James’s piece, entitled Rip-it-and-ship-it Versus Value-added, examines whether or not Northern Ontario has a comparative advantage in value-added industries. He argues that because of increasing global supply chains, proximity to markets is no longer an advantage.


“Northern Ontario is endowed with natural resources that not everyone else has; this is what gives the region its comparative advantage in these industries. On the other hand, it is not necessarily clear that the region has a comparative advantage in value-added forest and mining products – i.e., processing and manufacturing of raw materials. Since a processing facility can be located almost anywhere, there are many additional factors – over and above having raw materials nearby – that affect where Northern Ontario’s comparative advantage (or disadvantage) lie for value-added industries.

Read the full blog here.

Getting to Know Us

Research Advisory Board Member: Anne-Marie Mawhiney: Anne-Marie is currently the Special Advisor to the President of Laurentian University in Sudbury. She has also served as the Dean of Professional Schools and as a full professor at Laurentian University. Anne-Marie has a doctorate from York University and was the director of the Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development from 1991 to 1994 and from 1995 to 1997. She is a research principal with the Elliot Lake Tracking and Adjustment Study and editor of Rebirth: Political, Economic, and Social Development in First Nations. Anne-Marie is currently a member of the Research Advisory Board with Northern Policy Institute.

The Research Advisory Board is a volunteer group of academics from Colleges and Universities throughout the north and across Canada. They provide Northern Policy Institute with invaluable advice about critical issues facing our communities, they help us identify leading global experts on these issues, and they also work with us to maintain the high quality of our evidence based research and publications.

Learn more about our other Research Advisory Board members.

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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