State of the North 2019 – Breakfast Speaker – Dr. Heather Hall


[music] Charles Cirtwill – I’m not supposed to go off-script but
I’m gonna do that anyway you’ll find I’ll do that a lot during the day I
apologize if it means that we end up a little bit late we’ll try to stay on
time the reason I want to go off script is because I want to talk about
something that happened yesterday here in Sault Ste. Marie. The Local
immigration partnerships from from Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins,
North Bay, if I forget anybody I’m sorry got together yesterday for what they do
they have a regular quarterly meeting and because of all of the things that
are happening immigration they actually Ah, sorry Thomas of course. The the
francophone immigration Organization for the entire north one person to cover the
entire North Thomas? like seriously come on get some more staff. In any event in
any event they got together yesterday to talk about the future of immigration how
to coordinate how to organize and and I think it’s important to highlight that
level of cooperation I think that we saw FEDNOR was in the room IRCC was in the
room ENDM was there then I thought I saw you over there you are and and also
all five of the rural northern pilot communities were there as was all of the
local immigration partnership Société Économique de l’Ontario and they were talking about a conference or two conferences actually one in the Northeast and one in
the Northwest to coordinate that effort and one of the first things they decided
is those conferences both of them have to start with the conversation with
First Nations so they’re gonna spend the first half day of an immigration
conference talking with First Nations about how to do it right how to make
sure that it’s inclusive and and clarity and that the resources that are used to
welcome those types of newcomers are also potentially available to help folks
who are moving from other communities into larger centers transitions so I
think that’s that’s exciting that we’re at the point now where we’re talking
about those kind of conversations in advance
and leading into it in a in a much more inclusive way I think it will as as
Chief Sayer suggested prevent hard lessons later on. On that note I’m now
supposed to introduce Dr. Heather Hall and after Heather speaks perhaps we’ll
have an opportunity to hear from the kind sponsors for her talk which was
Algoma University so thank you very much for the University to step up it’s
actually a great opportunity for me because coming in Northern Ontario six
years ago I’ve heard a lot about Heather in her work but I’ve never met her until
yesterday so so now I get a chance to see her in person.
My understanding is she’s now the new Brand, brand new? Is that is that the? Brand new director of economic development innovation program at the University of
Waterloo so congratulations on the latest accomplishment Dr. Hall is one of
the leading scholars on innovation and economic development in rural and
northern regions in Canada she grew up in Northern Ontario and has a
professional personal interest in researching issues that are important to
the north I’ll leave it there other than to say that our founding Vice-Chair is a
gentleman by the name of George Macey and George of course is a huge fan of
Heather and I think he must have mentioned you 17 times and the first
time we had coffee and I apologize but I forgot the note they handed me for those
of you who are active on social media I’m told I’m supposed to give you this
to follow and/or tweet and include in your tweets so we’ve got… This is an
awful long list can’t we just pick one? Anyway don’t forget to follow us @northernpolicy we’ve got #StateOfTheNorth and it’s all written out.
We’ve got #L’EtatduNord for the francophones in the room we’ve
got #FutureNorth and of course the francophone version of that is
#FuturNord and I’m sure the francophones can both pronounce that
better than I can and spell it. On that note, Heather over to you. Heather Hall- Good morning, Thank You Charles for the warm introduction it’s great to be home in Northern Ontario to discuss the
future of our region I’m excited to catch up with a few
familiar faces in the room and listen to what looks like a very exciting day of
diverse speakers. I’ve been asked this morning to provide a bit of an overview
of the trends facing northern regions including Northern Ontario and some
lessons learned from my work across Canada and internationally.
When Charles first told me that the theme of today’s event was Future North
I started thinking about my vision for Northern Ontario in 2030. In 2030 all
people in Northern Ontario will have access to basic services including clean
drinking water, healthcare, safe housing quality k-12 education, as well as
broadband and cell phone coverage. Our youth will have job opportunities in
traditional non-traditional industries they may choose to go away and
experience all the world has to offer but there will always be opportunities
back home. Entrepreneurial initiatives will be encouraged and supported and the
wealth generated from our natural resources will be shared directly with
the communities impacted by their development we will be the world leaders
in balancing resource development and environmental sustainability on
innovation and safety in the mining industry and forestry industry and
value-added development. Our building designs will be the envy of regions
across the north and we will pioneer new infrastructure techniques that are
suited to our northern climates decisions affecting Northern Ontario
will be made in Northern Ontario with Northern Ontario not for it. Could this
happen? Maybe. Think about all the positive changes we have seen over the
last two decades in particular things that seemed impossible 10, 20, 30 years
ago. Did we ever think that Sudbury could be green again? I’m from Sudbury so I can
pick on it a little bit. Did we ever think that we would be home to the first
Medical School to open its doors in Canada in over 30 years or have a school
of architecture or what about our growing TV and film industry I certainly
never imagined as a kid growing up in Kirkland Lake in the 80s not my mom in
her would start a career as a background
extra in a movie starring Eva Longoria and Forest Whitaker on a more serious
note the recognition of indigenous rights as well as the conversations and
actions towards truth and reconciliation new relationships being formed and
others being strengthened between indigenous and non-indigenous
communities and the decisions over resource development who benefits and
who decides are all signs of how far we’ve come but also how much farther we
need to go. So changing the future of Northern Ontario will not be easy if we
want to have a future that is fundamentally different we need a firm
understanding of the trends that we are up against I’d like to spend a few
minutes this morning discussing what I think are the four biggest trends that
we are facing in northern regions those are demographics, economic restructuring,
infrastructure and service deficits and governance issues. So starting with
demographics the population of northern Canada as a whole and by northern Canada
I’m referring to our three territories as well as our provincial North or the
northern regions of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and
Labrador. As a whole we increased slightly from 2011 to 2016 adding a
roughly 40,000 people across that whole region but our population is decreasing
as a share of the national population overall we’re seeing an uneven pattern
of growth emerging within northern regions with some communities
experiencing decline, others that are experiencing slower rates of growth and
some that are even seeing rapid growth. For example we’re seeing rapid growth in
some indigenous communities and until a few years ago communities that were
located close to Resource Development projects and some of our indigenous
communities rapid growth is putting increased pressure on housing education
and other services which are already underfunded and under stress in our
resource won’t boom communities think Fort McMurray few years back they were
also experiencing pressure related to an influx of workers often mobile workers
who are placing increased demands on services and infrastructure often
without the resources or capacity to respond. In our slowly growing
communities than our declining communities we’re
experiencing accelerated population ageing with higher numbers of seniors
and lower numbers of youth under the age of 15 this introduces a number of
challenges from economic development and succession planning for our businesses
to the fiscal realities of local governments who struggle to provide
services to those who remain without raising taxes if you’re a visual person
this is what our growth trends look like between 2006 and 2016 for our CA’s and
CMA’s or places with populations that are over 10,000 people you can see a lot of
slow growth and decline in our larger cities here in Northern Ontario rapid
growth in northern Alberta which has since slowed significantly and decline
across other northern regions across the country. One of the provinces dealing
with the issue of population decline head-on is Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2018 for the first time in history more people died in the province than were
born they are seeing some increases in international migration to the province
but also an increase in migration to other provinces so they actually had a
net loss of 3,000 people last year last week statistics Canada released their
population projections for Canada for the next 25 years and in all the
scenarios that they ran the province will shrink this issues especially
pronounced in the smaller communities with the Harris Center reporting a
decline in population of up to 40% in some communities how is the government
responding well one is a population strategy focused on increasing the labour
force by encouraging more immigration, modernizing the provincial college
system and focusing on ways to become more productive and innovative the other
is resettlement. Newfoundland has a long history with rural resettlement in this
round residents and small communities are being offered up to 270 thousand
dollars per household to leave and start again in a larger community for this to
happen over 90 percent of residents have to vote in favour of resettling this has
have been hugely divisive and emotional as you can imagine with many rural
residents encouraging the government to reinvent rather than resettle rural
communities and before you think just can’t happen to your community
think about whether you still have a ban,k a post office, a grocery store, how
far your children travel to school, the state of your infrastructure, the
availability of health services, your tax base and whether the provincial
government will keep funding our community’s survival. Moving on to the
second major trend facing our communities northern Canada is striving
to adapt to the new economy an economy that is increasingly global where change
can literally happen overnight what happens on the other side of the world
can now have direct and often immediate consequences for Canada and our northern
communities and regions we’ve seen some dramatic shifts over the last few
decades in our resource sectors where resource companies have increased
consolidation strategies and pursued more flexible and mobile labor
arrangements we now have entire communities especially out east in
Newfoundland and Labrador and Cape Breton that are dependent on fly-in
fly-out work at industrial sites across northern Canada according to a report
from the state of rural Canada we are now exported more raw resources that
than at any time in the past however there’s less local employment per volume
of commodity exported there’s also fewer local benefits from those resource
industries as some companies struggling to for profitability have argued for
reduced contributions to local property taxation and contribute less via other
means to community infrastructure one of the most pressing economic trends facing
our northern communities is automation according to the Brookfield Institute
46% of work activities in Canada have the potential to be automated the
industries with the highest proportion of work activities at risk include
accommodation and food services, transportation, warehousing, manufacturing,
mining oil and gas extraction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.
So all sectors that are important to the north and northern Ontario last year the
federal deputy ministers Committee on inclusive growth had an internal
presentation on the future work in Canada they argued that the
greatest impacts will be felt in our rural and small towns dependent on
high-risk sectors like manufacturing and mining while the benefits of our
technological advancements will go to our largest urban centers this isn’t far
off into the future this is now I was at a mining conference a few years ago in Sudbury and a major mining company stated that their goal is to have no
people underground with a fully autonomous fleet that can be operated
from the surface I’ll let you digest that for a minute this would essentially
mean that a mine in Northern Ontario could be operated from anywhere in the
world. In Australia Rio Tinto is developing the mine of the future which
includes autonomous vehicles and remote controlled operations conservative
estimates on the impacts of automation in the Australian mining sectors
suggests a thirty to forty percent reduction in overall employment coupled
with a significant shift in the type of skills needed in the industry other
anticipated impacts include population in an economic decline in mining
communities and an overall decline in community investment in Canada the
impacts of increased automation in the mining sector could be significant the
mining sector currently employs over three hundred and seventy three thousand
people most of whom work and live across northern Canada with the highest
salaries of all industrial sectors the mining sector is also the largest
private sector employer of indigenous people across the country a recent
report by the Center for Social Responsibility in mining argued that in
Australian Canada mine automation could disrupt the indigenous employment
gains we have seen in the mining sector over the last decade given these
economic trends we need to ask ourselves is our labour force ready? Do we have the
appropriate training programs in place? Can we respond quickly and are we
working with companies to ensure that when, not if, automation occurs that the
jobs that do exist remain local. There are also massive infrastructure deficits
that exist across northern Canada which probably does not surprise anyone in
this room my colleague Tara vin a Dray and I did a report for the federal
government two years ago on innovation and in non metropolitan areas and one of
our biggest arguments is that it’s impossible to talk about
entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development in the 21st century without
access to broadband and cell coverage. It’s also difficult to talk about
economic development when communities especially some communities in the far
north do not have access to basic needs like clean drinking water affordable
food education and safe housing we also know that across the country the state
of our northern infrastructure is deteriorating and being impacted by
climate change in ways that we could never imagine this lovely photo is of
the only road passing through southern Labrador and it is not a gravel road it
is supposed to be paved but that was the state of the infrastructure a couple of
years ago when we were doing research in that region. Final trend that’s impacting
northern regions are issues related to governance my colleague Ken Coates at
the University of Saskatchewan calls the provincial north so the northern regions
of all our provinces, the Forgotten North due to the lack of attention these
regions receive from their respective provincial governments and the federal
government he argues that the provincial Norths in Canada are among the most
marginalised externally controlled and impoverished regions in the country he
also believes that provinces have come to rely on northern resource wealth to
power their provincial economies and sustain provincial government spending
and have little interest in sharing that wealth back to the north in northern
ontario his arguments probably resonate with many of us in the room we are very
fortunate to have a ministry at the provincial level and a federal
organization tasked with economic development they certainly could use
more authority to make decisions and more resources to act across the north
we are seeing the devolution of responsibilities without the devolution
of resources and decision-making authority essentially our communities
are being told to do more with less as provincial governments address the
challenges of their huge fiscal deficits. There is nothing inevitable about these
trends they are occurring by virtue of what we choose to do or not to do
especially in our policy decision making so what can we do to encourage a more
positive future for Northern Ontario? I’ve narrowed my list down to four key
insights there are many more that we will hopefully discuss throughout the
day but I offer these as a way to get the conversation started so my first
insight is to be bold take risks and think outside the box. A few of my
favourite examples are Bugøynes Norway Luleå in northern Sweden and Fogo
Island in Newfoundland and Labrador Bugøynes is a tiny town of roughly 200
people north of the Arctic Circle so it’s kind of at the confluence of where
Norway, Finland and Russia meet way up in the Arctic in the 1980s they experienced
a crisis in their cod fishery and their population started to decline unhappy
with the lack of attention their community was receiving from senior
levels of government a local action committee was formed and they decided to
put an ad in the leading newspaper in Oslo with the simple headline will
someone accept us and I’m gonna read out a bit of that ad so bear with me the ad
went on to state is there a place in Norway that will welcome an increase in
population of about 300 people we asked the citizens of the fishing community
Bugøynes and eastern Finnmark who are now fed up we feel it is time to put
everything behind us and start again somewhere else we want to avoid becoming
burned-out and worn out in our struggle for existence for no purpose we want to
use our strengths in a community where we can work for a future for ourselves
and our children we want to move together as a group solidarity among the
people of Bugøynes is strong the adult part of the population has a mixed
professional background with our competence and go ahead spirit we have
much to give we would be bringing 50 children we are interested in moving
south to Chandi leg even if there are difficulties in providing jobs we won’t
let that scare us we can help in creating new jobs so essentially they
put their entire town on the market for giveaway but their method worked they
received national attention and after some ups and downs the
community is now a leader in catching and selling live king crab through
innovative solutions that bring their product from fishermen to plate they
have a crab hotel I kid you not in Oslo where crabs enjoy an evening before
being shipped all over the world each crab comes with a QR code so moving crab
fishing into the 21st century which once scanned by the consumer will provide
information on size, catch, date, a bio of your fisherman and information about the
catch site so for this QR code that I have up on the slide our fishermen as
you can see there is Edgar and according to his profile in his video his
interests include dancing and singing to ABBA songs. So get your message out there
this was it started in the 1980s with the ads before social media we have so
many tools for advocacy available use them use humor be innovative. My second
example is Luleå Sweden located just under a hundred kilometers south of the
Arctic Circle it has a population of roughly 77 thousand people so more in
line with some of our bigger communities here in the north traditional industries
include the fisheries, mining and forestry in 2013 Facebook opened its
first data centre or server farm outside of the United States in Luleå one of the
reasons why was how Luleå marketed itself as the node pole and argued that
the cold arctic temperatures would act as a natural coolant which would require
less energy and be more environmentally friendly for these massive servers
server farms many of them are several football fields in length and according
to Facebook the server farm in Luleå was the most energy efficient computing
facility ever built since opening applications and computer science
courses that Luleå University of Technology have increased while five
other companies have established data centers nearby and they’re seeing other
spin-off growth and service business businesses emerge in the region so they
take away from Luleå is to really know your assets and how to
market them get out there and show businesses and government what you have
to offer. The third example is Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island. Fogo Island
has a population of roughly 2,200 people its economic history is tied to the cod
fishery which collapsed in Newfoundland in 1990s it’s only accessible by ferry,
boat or charter plane or helicopter after the cod fishery collapsed the
community really suffered people especially young people were moving away
and there was little Economic Opportunity on the island plus limited
capacity to do anything about it in 2006 a former resident Zita Cobb created the
Shorefast Foundation with her brothers they had grown up on Fogo Island and she
had went away to work and became a quite successful finance executive in the tech
industry in Silicon Valley wanting to contribute back to the island she
established a scholarship fund to help youth pursue post-secondary education
however was no college or university campus on Fogo she was confronted by a
mother who accused Cobb of helping to send their children away and that mom
asked her if she could do anything to help bring people home this led Cobb in
her two siblings on a journey to rebuild Fogo Island as an international
destination for the arts and tourism starting with the creation of the Shorefast Foundation. The focal point of the revitalization of Fogo Island Inn is the
architecturally unique Fogo Island inn that you can see in this photo it’s run
as a social enterprise with all surpluses going back into the
foundations initiatives that support the community all of the textiles in the inn from blankets and furniture are all built locally and available for purchase
she’s also teamed local textile workers with international designers to produce
innovative designs and ideas from the moment that you walk in the inn locals
are part of the process bringing people on tours and educating them about the
history of the island so if you can’t find a rich person to build a hotel
where Gwyneth Paltrow and the likes will stay use your sense of place
and build on the historic strengths that your community has one of my favorite
parts about the Shorefast story is how its revitalizing traditional industries
like textiles and crafts boat building and hand lining for Cod these were all
industries that had died off as people moved away that are now coming back and
making a resurgence all of these examples from Bugoynes, Luleå, Fogo have
done the unexpected when people first came up with their ideas people in their
communities didn’t think that that would ever work there but they proved them
wrong and are having great success in revitalizing their local economies
through these bold initiatives. My second lesson is that we need to act regionally
given the current fiscal demographic, economic, environmental and political
realities that we face. When I was doing research here in Northern Ontario a few
years ago I asked one of the mayor’s why they had created NOLUM which was the
Northern Ontario large urban mayor’s coalition from a few years back and his
response really resonated with me he said if you took a pencil in your hand
and you snapped it it’s easy but if you put five pencils in your hand you can’t
break that it’s a great visual for the strength and numbers argument and it has
really worked for us in the past and it was great to hear comments already being
made this morning about how we do need to work together in Northern Ontario we
need to act regionally at the level of the provincial north so our
organizations like FONOM should be reaching out to our neighbors in
northern Quebec northern Manitoba northern Saskatchewan northern Alberta
northern BC and Labrador to share lessons and advocate the issues that are
important to the provincial north at the federal level we need to have a common
voice at the regional level in Northern Ontario I’ve had provincial ministers
tell me that it’s extremely easy to ignore all of you when you each come
with your own shopping lists that your community wants but it’s much
harder to ignore you when you all come with the same small list of priorities
we also need to start thinking about smaller regional units within Northern
Ontario whether we call them districts or corridors or economic zones to
effectively plan and deliver services and I know the Policy Institute has put
out a few reports on this topic there are a variety of informal and formal ways
that we can act regionally across the country we have many formal mechanisms
in place like regional districts in British Columbia which were created in
the 1960s out of a need for greater regional cooperation and cost sharing
between municipalities there and unincorporated areas these regional
districts are governed by a board of director often composed of a director
elected from each unincorporated area and one or more directors appointed from
the elected councils of each municipality and from a treaty First
Nation they have three basic roles they provide region-wide services such as
9-1-1 or regional parks they provide inter-municipal or sub regional services
and they act as the general local government for the unincorporated areas
in addition they can create regional growth strategies to provide a regional
lens development another example for economic development is the now-defunct
regional economic development boards in Newfoundland and Labrador which provide
a coordinated economic development support and planning in 20 economic
zones across the province the structure of the REDBs included a volunteer
board of directors made up of representatives from municipalities
businesses community development education labor and other organizations
according to the needs of that particular zone the day-to-day
operations were managed by a variety of part-time or full-time staff and the red
bees were involved with a wide variety of regional development and community
capacity building initiatives they also created strategic economic plans for the
region’s to help guide investment there are many other examples from regional
service delivery arranged agreements and regional Accords on tourism – friendship
agreements between indigenous communities and neighboring
municipalities the key is to find a way to work together we are too small and
the challenges are too big to do it alone. The third
lesson is that we need to reimagine resource development in Northern Ontario
first we need to move away from the rip it out and ship it out approach to
resource development we need to encourage value-added development and I
know this is something we have been advocating for a very long time across
Northern Ontario it is starting to get the interests of some of our researchers
from across the country as well and Richard Hawkins who’s leading economist
at the University of Calgary wrote a report looking at innovation from a
uniquely Canadian perspective and basically what he was trying to do was
find reasons why Canada often does so terribly on a lot of our innovation
indicators and his argument is is that when we export our raw our low
value-added resources we’re also exporting most of the
opportunities to innovate sustainable high-value employment and most of the
spin-off opportunities with it we also need to find ways to reinvest our
resource royalties in a transparent way back into the communities and regions
where they are extracted we are making some improvements here through
agreements between governments, companies and indigenous communities but there is
certainly room for improvement one example in BC is the fair share
agreement which is now called the Peace River agreement in the Peace River
Regional District in northern British Columbia the original fair share
agreement was signed in 1994 to address the fiscal imbalance between
municipalities and the growing oil and gas sector municipalities were dealing
with increased pressures on infrastructure and services but most of
the industrial activity was actually happening but not beyond their
boundaries which meant they we had no ability to get any of those additional
costs paid for through industrial taxes so the fair share agreement was put in
place to provide financial resources to even out that imbalance the new Peace
River agreement which was negotiated in 2015 has a similar focus and it provides
1.1 billion dollars over 20 years for planning programs
and infrastructure investments imagine if we had access to one point 1 billion
dollars in some of our regions here in Northern Ontario and the amazing things
we could do another example is the royalties for resource for regions in
Western Australia with that program up to 25 percent of the state’s revenue
from mining and onshore petroleum royalties are being returned to non
metropolitan regions for additional investment in projects infrastructure
and community services so again taking the resource royalties and wealth that
are being extracted from communities in Western Australia and providing that
back into the communities to support their initiatives. My fourth lesson is
that we need to do a much better job of fostering a culture of innovation. When
someone comes up with a new idea or approach in your community or in our
region do we say that’s a great idea or do we say or think that will never work
here. How can we foster a culture of innovation I am an unapologetic regional
planner so I always start with a strategy a few years ago I led a project
in Newfoundland and Labrador exploring how we could advance innovation across
that province and one of our recommendations was to implement smart
specialization strategies which are being used in the European Union as a
condition to receive funding from their European structural investment fund what
this does is tie regional development funding to having a smart specialization
strategy so it would be equivalent to communities or regions across Northern
Ontario requiring a strategy to access NOHFC or FedNor funding the goals of
smart specialization strategy are to build on the unique assets and potential
for excellence in a region, engage stakeholders and encourage innovation
and experimentation, they are evidence-based with sound monitoring and evaluation
systems they take a broad view of innovation it’s not just product
invention or the high tech sector it can be social innovation, innovation in tourism and finally they focus policy support and investment on
key regional priorities that have been identified by those regions the smart
specialization approach includes the six steps that you see up on the screen the
first is the analysis of the regional context and potential for innovation
second is in creating an inclusive governance structure to ensure
participation in ownership the third is creating a shared vision for the future
of the region fourth is identifying a small number of priorities for regional
development fifth is defining appropriate policies a roadmap and
effective action plan and six where we often fall shorts here in Canada with a
lot of our plans is integrating the monitoring and evaluation within that. In
late 2017 the province of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that they would
be the first jurisdiction in North America to pilot this approach in five
regions across the province this includes southern Labrador in the Great
Northern Peninsula who are focusing on Fisheries and tourism Corner Brook and
the surrounding area where they’re focusing on forestry and agriculture
Gander and the surrounding area related to aerospace and defense the Burin
Peninsula related to industrial technology development this is where a
lot of the offshore oil platforms are being built and the Avalon region
related to Ocean Technology so in and around St. John’s. The goal in each pilot
region is to identify three or four attainable initiatives that enhance
connectivity, identify opportunities for the adaption or adoption of new
technologies, foster global connections or opportunities and encourage further
collaboration between the key stakeholders in the innovation system. Other ways we can foster a culture of
innovation include entrepreneurship training opportunities like
EntrepreNorth, a six-month training program to empower indigenous and
community-based entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods
across northern Canada and our three territories, pitch competitions are all
the rage I’m at the University of Waterloo and it seems that every week
there’s a pitch competition by one of our incubators in the community. Our incubators could potentially collaborate on a problem
pitch competition so picking a particular theme or a northern issue and
getting our best and brightest to think of ideas on how to solve that one
example of this is the Arctic inspiration prize where up to three
million dollars is awarded annually and it’s focused on addressing the cause of
an Arctic issue as opposed to symptoms our northern research centers and
post-secondary institutions also have essential roles to play in supporting
innovation we do have some examples across Northern Ontario and I think
Peter will probably speak to some of the work that they’re doing at the Sault Ste.
Marie Innovation Center this afternoon but other examples include at Yukon
College the cold climate innovation Research Center where they’re helping
create and commercialize and export sustainable cold climate technologies to
subarctic regions so really recognizing that their asset and their location in
the sub Arctic could provide some viable business opportunities the center
provides funding business mentoring and planning assistance with prototype
development project management marketing support and patent advice. Projects
supported by the center have focused on alternative energy, building construction
in a northern context, food security and environmental remediation among others
so all issues that are also particularly relevant to Northern Ontario another
example of where different stakeholders have come together to try and solve a
particular problem is Smart Ice which was created between researchers at
Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador communities along the northern
Labrador coast and now expanding into Nunavut government help provide some of
the initial funding as well as industry and the idea behind Smart Ice is to
integrate adapted technology remote sensing and Inuit traditional knowledge
to promote safe travel for all stakeholders in northern coastal
environments so as sea ice is becoming more unpredictable they’re hoping that
this tool can help people travel on those much-needed routes. Quite simply we need innovation, innovative solutions to our pressing challenges and ideally
they would be developed in the north and by the north. I’d like to end my talk
this morning by reminding everyone that Northern Ontario matters Northern
Ontario is home to over 780 thousand people and represents almost 90% of the
provincial landmass Northern Ontario has is and will continue to be vital to our
provincial economy our resource industries generate significant economic
activity and wealth and provide both direct and indirect employment
opportunities across the province Northern Ontario is also essential to
our environmental well-being and of increasing importance in our fight
against climate change and perhaps more importantly Northern Ontario is home for
many indigenous and non-indigenous people we may not agree on my vision for
the future of Northern Ontario that I alluded to at the beginning but
hopefully we can all agree that what we need in the future in the north is a
future for our children. Thank you. [clapping] Charles Cirtwill: Last night over dinner the board and I were talking about whether we wanted to be- what was the phrase? Whether it was better to be an attic or a basement so again talking
about northern separation and whether we should be our own province etc.
etc. Do you have any thoughts in that direction should we just separate
ourselves from Ontario and leave those Southerners to their troubles?
Dr. Heather Hall: I’ve certainly seen those arguments over the years, ideally I think it’d be nice if we
could work within the system that we have I think given that we’ve been
talking about separation for decades and no one’s seem to listen to us I’m not
sure those conversations go anywhere down at Queen’s Park so I think the way
to do it is just to advocate for more decision-making authority at the
regional level I know there’s been some discussion papers that your Institute
has put out looking at varieties of ways whether that’s something similar to the
City of Toronto Act which gives us more decision-making powers but also
different ways to raise revenues and that’s why we also need to have those
important conversations about resource wealth and how we can have some of that
resource royalty money back in the region to fund some of the things that
we would like to do so I’d like to see us try to work within the system that we
have and move it forward as opposed to having the conversations about
separating entirely because I think those oftentimes land on deaf ears down
at Queen’s Park although sometimes a great way to get them to look north
hasn’t really amounted to anything over the last few years. Dave Canfield: Hi thank you follow
up on Charles I’m Dave Canfield, I’m on the board now, a retired municipal
politician for many years and the other municipal organization president of that
for quite a few years NOMA, the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association which is two-thirds of the landmass of Ontario
and to follow up I might not totally agree with your answer because we have
pushed and I have pushed since the 90’s Since the Lands for life process for some type of identity for Northern Ontario the previous
government had a regional economic development thing going around for a
while brought in people from around the world and with different regional
scenarios of how they work things and they dropped that right in the middle it
just fell right off the face of the earth from NOMA perspective we tried to
keep it going and every time we try and make a
decision Queen’s Park falls off and here’s the problem, we were in Windsor a
couple years ago I can’t remember who was the name of conference or whatever and I was speaking there and I always like to give a geography lesson of where I’m
from because I’m from Kenora was mayor of Kenora for 20 years and the fact
of the matter is from Windsor to Kenora and as I said if I got in my car in
Kenora and I drove West the same distances is to Windsor I would be just
outside Vancouver BC four legislative buildings, four planning acts and unless
somebody listens the future of Ontario is in northern rural Ontario it will
never happen under the system we have now when you have a province that
encompasses four planning acts and has one and the Planning Act is built around
the Golden Horseshoe basically the corridor from Windsor to Ottawa it will
never ever ever work and I have listened to I’ve been started municipal
government 1991 I’ve been with all three parties listened all three parties every
party has said the same thing one size does not fit all
we’re just about at 2020 nobody has changed it and if I can take one second
and get I need give you a scenario. We went to the government because Kenora
has a bypass around it there is no services on the bypass we
wanted the sign put up saying there’s no services you have to go into Kenora
people go by turn around they’re pretty pissed off to put it in play in English
because they can’t get gas they have to turn around and double back so they
agreed. I was down here I’m also in the advisory team for FP innovations we
were in Mattawa at the end of April and they they’re a couple foresters
asked if I wanted to go with them up to White River so that’s what
thousand no, a thousand kilometers in that in that neighborhood I noticed
these signs outside of the communities limited services with a little gas
handle and guess what they’re outside of every community including Kenora now,
there is No services one size still fits all this is how stupid our bureaucrats
are one size does not fit all and in a commute in a province this
size if it continues there is no future for Northern Ontario unless they get
their head out of the sand and southern Ontario almost says something else and
and and change it and honest to god I’m frustrated because I spent a lot of
years trying to change it it’s not changing.
Dr. Heather Hall: I don’t disagree with you
um I think going back to Charles’s questions separation might not be the
answer but if we could have devolved decision-making power things like they
tried and are still in existence in in across England with the devolution to
the Welsh Parliament creating systems in place that recognise regional
differences and provide the decision-making authority that can be
made regionally so not unlike what we had with our territorial governments and
having now the devolved responsibility from the federal government to manage
their own resources and keep that resource wealth things like that could
potentially be a game changer in Northern Ontario if we could have some
kind of devolved authority and decision-making power here whether it’s
a city of our region of Northern Ontario Act that provides those legislative
powers or some kind of elected assembly of our leaders in Northern Ontario that
provide more advocacy and have more decision-making power here in the north
is definitely something I 100% agree with that’s needed and that’s how we’re
going to change the future not by keeping with the status quo but trying
to change what we already have and show that there’s opportunities to not
entirely separate from Ontario but just say listen you’ve already given
powers to the City of Toronto so this isn’t something outside of our
wheelhouse we can think about how can we devolve decision-making authority to Northern Ontario so some of you if that’s
something that’s passionate work with your research centres work with people
like myself who are passionate about the north to come up with a document that
could outline that and what that could look like and then get it into the hands
of the people at Queen’s Park that need to hear it and keep driving home that
message as a collective. Jean-Pierre: My name is Jean-Pierre I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit more on the lack of I guess monitoring and
evaluation because it was one of the things in your slide but you didn’t get into and the reasons for it and you get a lot rate on that Dr. Heather Hall: Sure
Jean-Pierre: Also just in I’m wondering if there’s a link at the front end when it comes to
the strategies in terms of the quality of the strategies that are that are
leading into projects and things is is there a lack of evaluation and
monitoring because there’s maybe not as much seriousness getting to the quality
of some some strategies that might be put forward at various levels.
Dr. Heather Hall: Yeah sure I think oftentimes especially looking at some of our strategies in Northern Ontario there’s a
lot of time that goes between some of our larger strategy documents like the
growth plan and its predecessors and so when we do get started on them there are
just so many topics that everyone wants to discuss and have included and so
sometimes that starts weighing down where they can go and so keeping one of
the things with smart specialization is keeping really focused and identifying a
few key priorities at first and then with that monitoring and evaluation part
of it once you’re successful hopefully and achieving those few first priorities
you move on to the next one where we often go wrong is not even
including at least publicly or in a transparent way the implementation
pieces so the financial aspects of how things are going to get funded who’s
going to be involved and that’s not just up to our provincial and federal
government that’s up to other stakeholders in the region to be a part
of it and to really own pieces of it and to help roll those priorities out and it
also includes timelines so when do we hope to achieve these so the three key
pieces are the when the how and the who and so that’s really what we’re seeing
with the smart specialization strategies is they’re built into the discussions
from day one if our goal is to create I’m just gonna
pull an example from some of the smart specialization in European Unions- an incubator in our region because that’s what we feel here’s how
much money is going to be dedicated to that here are the actors who are going
to be in charge of getting it going and up and running and here’s our time frame
so often times we don’t see that in a lot of our strategies here in Canada at
least in a in a public way and certainly you know if we look at the growth plan
website I don’t think there’s been an update in several years and it’s really
hard to say on the on the surface what’s going on
I’m sure behind the scenes in our provincial ministry folks could tell us
some of the things and the initiatives that are going on but the key is to
really have that out out front showing people we’re doing things ticking things
off the box and showing that we’re moving forward is really important. Unknown Speaker: Hi, you did a lot of or a number of examples around projects, initiatives,
communities that have done very innovative and interesting things I’m
wondering if you could speak to whether diversity in all its forms whether its
gender or cultural background or language etc influenced the ability of
the group of people or the community to be able to engage in the innovative
ideas or be able to be successful in what they’ve done.
Dr. Heather Hall: Sure I think that in
all the cases they tried to especially in Fogo and I would say Bugøynes
it was a the entire community and so everybody who was a part of that
community was involved and so for that people have a real sense of ownership
and want to move forward Luleå was a bit different because I think it was
more your traditional business attraction retention so a lot of that
was done in the Ed-Dev world but also with some of the with Luleå University
there so the education and training side I think that in Fogo especially and to a
certain extent in Bugøynes their now looking at it by how do we bring in
other views and other people to help us and so on Fogo in particular they’ve
really reached out international especially on the textiles side
designers to work with communities there from all over the world and so it’s
really connecting we have this kind of catch term in in innovation local buzz
global pipelines so having that community buzz locally people in people
buying in ownership of an idea but connecting to outside as well and
bringing in new ideas keeping things fresh so extremely important and I think
that’s something extremely important in the north is that we do have a wide
diversity of people who call this region home so making sure that everybody has a
chance to be included and from time to time people may say you know we step
back from this process but always leave the door open for them to come back.
Thank you very much. [Clapping]
[Music] [Music]

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