Northern Economist 2.0

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Pictures from New York

Just got back from another visit to what is definitely one of the most fascinating cities on the planet.  With a population of nearly 9 million people in a total land area of about 300 square miles, the population density is intense.  Of course, there is then the population of the broader region – the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) – that brings you to over 20 million people.  The result is a dense node of economic activity, creativity, diversity and energy and the views are spectacular.

Economic News Around the North: February 25th edition

Here are some of the stories that have some economic significance for northern Ontario over the last week that managed to catch my interest It was for the most part a relatively quiet week. Enjoy.

Investments in First Nations Infrastructure and Economies. Net News Ledger. February 25th, 2017.

Community accepts $99M settlement deal. Chronicle Journal. February 25th, 2017.

This settlement provides resources for the long-term economic sustainability of Fort William First Nation.  Investing the funds in an endowment would generate a stream of income in perpetuity available for investment in economic, social and infrastructure projects.

Marshalls coming to Thunder Bay in 2018. Tbnewswatch. February 24th, 2017.

Time to reignite Ring of Fire.  Sudbury Star. February 25th, 2017.

This one is an op-ed from one of the many candidates currently running for leadership of the Federal Conservative Party. It might be interesting if not entertaining to hear what Kevin O'Leary thinks about the Ring of Fire as a viable business proposition.

Local economy needs immigration, forum hears. February 21st, 2017.

DSSAB issue dividing region. February 24th, 2017.

Expect these types of cost-sharing issues to become more common around the north given declining urban populations and rising taxes.

Brace for impact of U.S. softwood lumber duties. Northern Ontario Business. February 22nd, 2017.

Again, it is difficult to know where this issue might go.  We may get some insight on Canada in the world of Donald Trump from Derek Burney at his talk this week in Thunder Bay.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Fiscal Comparisons for Major Northern Ontario Cities

The results of the 2016 Census for major northern Ontario cities draws attention to what I think is growing evidence that high and rising municipal property tax and user charge burdens have been inducing tax migration to surrounding lower tax townships and municipalities.  In many respects, northern Ontario cities are in a tough spot given that they have declining tax bases as a result of weak economic growth, dispersed urban areas to serve, weak population growth, and fixed costs and obligations to comply with provincial legislation affecting municipalities.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Economic News Around the North: February 17th Edition

Here is listing of some news stories across northern Ontario over the last few days that I feel are of some economic significance for the region.  There was actually quite a bit going on.  Have a nice weekend.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Why the North's Cities are Losing Population

Everyone is still pretty much digesting last week's census results and the news that many northern Ontario's cities actually lost population.  Of course, the immediate gut reaction to the population decline of what are supposed to be the regional magnets for growth will focus on a slow economy as well as cries that the provincial government needs to do something.  I think its important to think more carefully about what actually is happening given that northern Ontario as a whole actually saw a slight population increase.  Here is my take on what some of the factors may be.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Economic News Around the North: February 10th Edition

Here is a listing of some of the major news stories around northern Ontario this week that in my view have some economic significance for the region.  Of course, much of the week's news was dominated by the release of the 2016 Census population counts.  Most of the stories in the regional media focused on local results (major centers actually saw declines) and there was little in the way of putting the results together for northern Ontario as a whole - though you can always see my post on the regional perspective. Enjoy and have a nice weekend.

Preparing Northern Ontario for the Future. Government of Ontario News. February 8th, 2017.

This was an item that does not seem to have been picked up by regional media but then despite the title of the release the actual report was a long-term report on Ontario's economy.  The long and short - population and economic growth are being concentrated in the GTA.

Population decline is a Northern Ontario thing, says mayor.  Timmins Today. February 9th, 2017.

Thunder Bay's population experiencing low growth. TBnewswatch. February 9th, 2017.

City Stalled; Stagnant growth, aging population present economic challenges. Chronicle-Journal. February 9th, 2017.

While the Thunder Bay CMA remained stable (up 25 people from 2011), the city itself saw the loss of 450 people. However, it should be noted that in this story, Thunder Bay's Mayor was optimistic about the Ring of Fire and admitted being surprised by the numbers given that there had been indications of heightened economic activity like more building permits.  Given that the Thunder Bay CMA remained stable (0% growth), surrounding municipalities like Neebing (3.5%), Oliver Paipoonge (3.3%) and Shuniah (2.2%) saw increases, and the City of Thunder Bay fell (-0.4%), one wonders if the Mayor is willing to draw any insights from the Tiebout Model of migration as to why people have essentially been leaving the city but population in surrounding areas has been growing?  I'd explain more but my time is limited.  Looking for analysis? Hey, where is that research chair on the northern Ontario economy?

Sudbury's economic outlook positive. February 9th, 2017.

Mayor optimistic, despite weak population growth. Sudbury Star. February 9th, 2017.

Census. Thousands leave northern Ontario cities over last 5 years. CBC News Sudbury. February 9th, 2017.

Greater Sudbury is growing, but more people moving to the outskirts. CBC News Sudbury. February 9th, 2017.

Well, despite Tiebout effects, Sudbury is still growing.

North Bay's population down 3.9%-census. North Bay Nugget. February 8th, 2017.

Mayor confused by decline in North Bay's population. North Bay Nugget. February 8th, 2017.

I am not confused at all.  Despite the increase in construction and building permits, there is really only so much government building projects can do.  Sometimes, you need a surge in private sector investment too.

Census data shows Sault population declining. Sault Star. February 8th, 2017.

How on earth did Jocelyn Township's population grow one-third in five years? SOOToday. February 10th, 2017.

Sounds like more insights from the Tiebout Model in the Sault also.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

2016 Census of Canada: Northern Ontario Results

Well, the population counts of the 2016 Census of Canada were released by Statistics Canada today and there is an odd assortment of results for northern Ontario that are both good and bad. Canada's population in 2016 was 35,151,728 - an increase of 5 percent from 2011 - while Ontario's population was 13,448,494 - an increase of 4.6% from 2011.  Northern Ontario's population actually grew between 2011 and 2016 from 775,178 to reach 780,140 for an increase of 0.64 percent. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Some Federal Fiscal Highlights

I have a new report out by the Fraser Institute in celebration of Canada's 150th Anniversary.  It is titled A Federal Fiscal History: Canada, 1867 to 2017 and tracks federal government spending, revenue, deficits, debt and spending and revenue composition from 1867 to 2017.  You can get the executive summary and the full report here.  However, is a quick round-up of some federal fiscal highlights over the years:

Friday, 3 February 2017

Economic News Around the North: February 3rd Edition

Here are some stories over the last week from across northern Ontario  that I feel have some significance for the region's economy.  Have a nice weekend.

What the Finns can offer Northern Ontario's biomass economy. Northern Ontario Business. Jan 27th, 2017.

Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation partner on economic development. Northern Ontario Business. February 2nd, 2017.

City to push economic development at ROMA. North Bay Nugget. January 29th, 2017.

Ring of Fire mining development still years away from delivering on a decade of hype. CBC Thunder Bay, January 30th, 2017.

Province pulls plug on loan program. Sault Star. February 2nd, 2017.

Sudbury a magnet for newcomers. Sudbury Star. February 1st, 2017.

And for those of you who believe that politics and institutions are important to economic performance, two stories of interest this week.

First, while its not yet Easter, there is this resurrection (It must be a slow news week in Sudbury):

We're one Ontario, says Wynne. Dismisses separation effort. January 27, 2017.

And for those of you who believe that the context of leadership does matter and that government leadership should aspire to formal and decorous behavior in order to help foster a community environment attractive to business and economic activity, there are these:

Hobbs sues Zaitzeff over YouTube video. Tbnewswatch. February 2, 2017.

Hobbs serves notice against Zaitzeff. Chronicle Journal. February 1, 2017.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Demographics in Northern Ontario: Getting Ready for Census 2016

On February 8th, Statistics Canada is expected to release the Population and Dwelling Counts for the 2016 Census.  This is of interest everywhere but no more so than in northern Ontario where the 2011 Census registered population declines from 2006.  Indeed, the long-term trend has been for a shrinking population in northern Ontario both in absolute numbers and as share of Ontario’s population.  In 1976, northern Ontario (Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury [District & Regional Municipality], Thunder Bay & Temiskaming) accounted for about 10 percent of Ontario’s population whereas by 2011 it was down to 6 percent.