Western Canada still needs skilled labour and technologies, and northern Ontario has a lot to offer, according to speakers at an economic development workshop held in Thunder Bay Wednesday.

The event, hosted by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Thunder Bay’s Community Economic Development Commission, focused on ways local mining businesses could cash in on mining and oil sands development.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation said Alberta remains a province with huge potential.

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Steve Matheson, project lead for Energy Connection Oil Sands with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation says Ontario mining suppliers would do well to partner up with mining suppliers from out west to help get a foothold in the market. (Supplied)

"There is a lot of new projects that that have been announced," Steve Matheson said.

"Unfortunately there have been a few that been placed on hold. We believe the longer term opportunity for Ontario suppliers is there to partner with local suppliers."

‘Work that is real’

Matheson said Ontario has the capacity to supply both Alberta and the mining needs of northwestern Ontario, which was  good news for many of the workshop participants who hail from the mining supply sector.

Lester Cey, a consultant who helps mining supply companies break into Saskatchewan, said that province is booming and has a wide variety of projects underway. "There's new mines being developed like we've never seen," Cey said.

"SaskPower has some coal-fired power generation going on near Estevan. Take those projects alone and that's $20 billion worth of work that is real."

Cey said new technologies will play a large role in Saskatchewan's new developments and that many of those technology needs can be supplied by businesses in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.