Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario

A plan for economic development, inclusiveness and success

Challenges

Demography

  • Between 2006 and 2016, the population of Northern Ontario fell 3.8 percent, from 843,845 to 811,000
  • Home to 105 of Ontario's 127 Indigenous communities, including 31 remote reserves of which 25 are diesel dependent. Positive natural growth is only occurring within the Indigenous population
  • The population in Ontario's Francophone areas is expected to decline between 2011 and 2036
  • The number of people leaving the region exceeds the number of individuals coming into the region

Infrastructure

  • Many small and single-industry dependent communities have limited services and infrastructure to attract new business investment
  • Many rural and remote areas lag in terms of access to broadband and some lack broadband altogether

Economy

  • Current labour shortages and growing labour demand projections make workforce shortages one of the biggest challenges over the next three to five years
  • Virtually all Northern Ontario businesses are small and medium-sized, employing less than 500 workers, most of them have been historically dependant on primary sectors such as forestry and mining
  • Less than three percent of Northern Ontario small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are exporters
  • The employment rate is below the provincial average

Business Development

  • Businesses in small, rural and remote communities are isolated from the larger clusters and professional networks limiting their decision-making capacity, their access to corporate investments and their overall competitiveness
  • Northern Ontario SMEs exhibit less business innovation activity (37%) compared to the rest of Canada (42%)
  • Energy, transportation and financing costs are higher in Northern Ontario than the rest of the province
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