Northern Economist 2.0

Monday, 4 September 2017

Northern Ontario Wildlife & Vistas

It is Labour Day and the official end of summer break and the start of a new academic year.  Traditionally, this weekend also marks the end of summer fashions such as white shoes though strict adherence to such practices have rarely characterized the social circles I move in.  Summer in Thunder Bay can be quite pleasant though this year was a little cooler than usual. Nevertheless, the scenery this year was greener than usual due to the rain and the cool temperatures.  The trees in my yard filled out very nicely and their canopies provided a home for quite a few birds including this visitor under my pear tree...a Red Tailed Hawk I believe.

Red Tailed Hawk from my dining room window
And from the basement window

We were alerted to the hawk's presence by some shrill shrieks outside and it appears the hawk had managed to find something to eat.  The hawk's presence may be a factor in why the yard has been so quiet today when it comes to bird song in general.

On another day while walking along the nearby trail, came across one of nature's armoured tanks.  I was surprised to see this out in the middle of the day and plodding along on its way to the nearby river.




Also managed to get out to Nipigon this summer for a day trip that involved a visit to the waterfront, a short hike along the trail to Red Rock and then a very nice lunch at the Edgeview Restaurant.  A shot of the Nipigon River from the trail and another that also manages to include the new bridge - which incidentally is still a ways from being finished.

 
Not a bridge too far, a bridge that does not yet go far enough

The scenery in Nipigon was very pleasant and the visit also include a stop at the recently unveiled Paddle to the Sea Park.  Those of you who are of a certain age will likely remember the children's book and NFB film.

And one final picture from my summer sojourns around Thunder Bay and the North.  A shot of me and one of my minions!  Every self respecting economist must have an abundance of minions to support their policy prescriptions and points of view. 


































Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lakehead is Looking for a President

Lakehead University is looking for a new President and Vice-Chancellor - and so are Laurentian and Algoma apparently.  That is a lot of change in northern Ontario higher education in just a very short time.  Lakehead has issued a call for consultative input so if you are interested in contributing, check out the call that was issued in this last week's media relations bulletin.  If you are interested in any thoughts I might have on the matter, feel free to read my post on Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.  Have a great long weekend!
 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Another Look at Northern Ontario Economic Activity...And the Pictures are Not Pretty

When looking at trends in the northern Ontario economy, we often look at evidence on population growth, unemployment rates, personal incomes or employment creation.  Well, here is another indicator courtesy of Statistics Canada Table 11-001 - Summary of charitable donors, annual.  Now this data is on charitable contributions and provides information on the value of donations (more on that in a later post) but it also provides data on the number of taxfilers by jurisdiction.

Why is the number of taxfilers an interesting number?  If your economy is growing and there is substantial economic activity, more people are either working or setting up businesses and income is being generated and by extension the number of income tax taxfilers should be going up. So what do the numbers look like?

Figure 1 presents the number of income tax taxfilers for Thunder Bay and Sudbury from 1997 to 2015 and for Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins for the period 2008 to 2015 (which is what is available),  Needless to say, things look a little flat in these northern Ontario cities especially compared to Ontario as a whole in Figure 2 which has seen steady growth in the number of taxfilers despite having a fairly moribund economy until just a couple of years ago.




Figure 3 provides the percent change for these northern Ontario cities and Ontario as a whole for the period of commonly available numbers spanning the years 2008 to 2015.  The number of taxfilers has shrunk in four out of the five cities - only Thunder Bay has managed a slight increase.  North Bay shrank by -0.3 percent and Sudbury by -0.5 percent which is rather modest compared to Timmins and the Sault.  The number of taxfilers in Timmins shrank by 3.1 percent and the Sault by 2.6 percent.   Thunder Bay, on the other hand registered a very miniscule increase of one tenth of one percent. Ontario as a whole saw an increase of 9.2 percent in the number of taxfilers between 2008 and 2015.



So - more evidence of the blatantly obvious I suppose.  Growth in northern Ontario's economy has essentially come to a halt.   Given the coming provincial election, it will be entertaining to say the least to watch how the three party leaders handle the issue.