The Northern Policy Institute says one way to attract immigrants to Northern Ontario is to entice them to the region before they settle in the GTHA.

NPI President Charles Cirtwill if the new arrivals like want they see, they will talk about their positive experiences with their brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.

“Our challenge isn’t so much to have an attractive place to come and settle down to with their families, but rather it’s to break the inertia of everyone going to Toronto as a depot,” Cirtwill said.

“Once they settle in Toronto, it’s much more difficult to convince them to leave.”

Cirtwill says the Toronto area became home for nearly 400,000 immigrants during the census years covering 2001 to 2016.

In stark contrast is North Bay which attracted 210 people over the same 15-year period.

Cirtwill says what will help the north and rural communities bring immigrants to their area are programs that allow them to target newcomers on an approved list of people who have been accepted to enter Canada.

“This group of people would meet the skills that the community requires,” Cirtwill said.

He adds Toronto already does a great job in attracting immigrants and other areas like Manitoba and Atlantic Canada are start to see more immigrants as a result of programs.

He says if Northern Ontario can develop strategies, there’s no reason why it won’t see more economic immigrants in the future.