Well, traveling in winter is never much fun and this weekend I was in Montreal for the Fraser Institute Student Seminar Series and my way back has been affected by snow and freezing rain and assorted other things. Still, there is always time to blog so here are the economic news stories that have caught my attention over the last little while with respect to northern Ontario economic affairs.
“Drop CN bridge appeal, Fort William First Nation chief tells Thunder Bay city council.” CBC News Thunder Bay, Feb. 8th, 2018.
Well, this makes a lot of sense. I recall speaking on a Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce panel last spring where I made a similar remark that it was time to plan for a new span across the Kam River. I suppose Thunder Bay City council is gambling that they can get something for nothing by getting CN to maintain the bridge but it would be forward looking to plan and line up the funding for a new modern bridge. Best case scenario – they could end up with two bridges. How’s that for infrastructure!
“Porter Airlines new crew base ‘good news’ for Thunder Bay Ontario” CBC News Thunder Bay, Feb. 2nd, 2018.
This is a good news story not least of which is that 40 jobs from the crew base are coming to Thunder Bay but because it bodes well for the development of Porter’s air network. With a crew base in Thunder Bay, Porter can use Thunder Bay as a mini hub perhaps for an expansion west to Winnipeg or a link through Chicago as part of it existing network. Porter is innovative and service oriented and a great alternative to Pearson. They are also adding a 7th daily flight out of Thunder Bay to Toronto. This weekend reminded me why I rarely fly out of Pearson.
In other transportation news, it would appear air travel is big in northern Ontario. North Bay is also getting some aviation jobs. I guess 40 is a magic number for airlines as it is expected that 40 jobs will be created here also.
“Voyageur Airways receives $2.7 million to expand,” North Bay Nugget.ca, Fe. 9, 2018.
In other news…
“Business confidence Drops in northeast: survey” Sudbury Star, Feb. 10th, 2018.
Apparently, less than a fifth of businesses in northeastern Ontario are confident in Ontario’s economic future according to this Chamber of Commerce annual report. This was reinforced by regional data, as the Business Confidence Survey reveals that nearly half of northeastern Ontario businesses expect their organization’s revenue to stay the same over the next 12 months.
It could be that the Canadian economy is finally slowing down given the recent numbers from Statistics Canada.
“Canada’s volatile jobs survey posts biggest monthly drop since 2009” CTV News, Feb 9th, 2018.
While Canada lost 88,000 jobs and Ontario and part time workers were heavily affected, it is only one month’s data – January – and you would need several months more before you could argue a trend was underway. However, Thunder Bay and Sudbury saw their unemployment rates remain pretty much the same with Sudbury remaining at 6.8 percent and Thunder Bay dropping slightly from 6.1 to 5.8 percent. However, as I have noted previously, the unemployment rate in northern Ontario is not the best indicator of job growth given the shrinking labour force. Indeed, even the Sudbury Star noted that while Sudbury’s unemployment rate stayed at 6.8 percent, it nevertheless shed 800 jobs.
In Ring of Fire news, the saga continues.
“Plan to develop Eagle's Nest site a step 'in positive direction' for Indigenous communities” CBC News Sudbury, Feb. 7th, 2018.
Timmins is trying to boost tourism as is the Sault.
“Will thousands flock to Timmins to watch Bryan Adams?” Feb. 8th, 2018. TVO.
As so economic life goes on in northern Ontario. Have a great week!