Charles Cirtwill, the President and CEO of the Northern Policy Institute, says the north is “well behind the eight ball” when it comes to meeting the labour shortage.
“We needed to respond to this 15 years ago,” Cirtwill said adding that the cost to meet the shortage will now cost considerably more.
Cirtwill says the people who will fill the jobs of the future will be more First Nations people and immigrants.
Cirtwill says 30 plus years ago there weren’t as many women in the workforce but that changed with time.
Cirtwill says this happened because of education and messaging so that as a result, the perception of who made up the working world has gradually changed.
Nowadays many women easily occupy top executive roles in a variety of sectors.
Cirtwill expects it will take about two generations for more First Nations people to succeed at getting more jobs.
He says immigrants may speak their English differently from what we’re used to hearing, but Cirtwill says we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that once more people are working in the north, it makes for a stronger region.
Cirtwill says the alternative is more ghost towns if the population doesn’t grow as depicted in the book Ghost Towns of Ontario where a community eventually is abandoned.
“Once it starts it’ll be a domino effect and we’ll see five, six, seven, eight ghost towns pretty quickly,” he said.
Cirtwill says there was a time that the federal and provincial governments didn’t pay as much attention to Northern Ontario with its labour shortage.
He says over the years that’s changed, adding they recognize the shortage is real and can help turn that around.