Northern Ontario mayors call for action to help address demographic challenges

Mayors from large urban centres in northern Ontario are calling on the provincial and federal governments to help address demographic challenges.
Mayors and CAO's from Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Thunder Bay gathered on Thursday for The Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors meeting. (Supplied)

Mayors from large urban centres in northern Ontario are calling on the provincial and federal governments to help address demographic challenges.

On Thursday, the Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) met in Sault Ste. Marie. The group consists of mayors and CAOs from the five largest centres in northern Ontario, including Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, North Bay and Thunder Bay.

Sault Ste. Marie mayor Christian Provenzano says demographic challenges are an issue for all areas in this region.

"If you look at the demographics of Ontario, Ontario is expected to grow significantly and northern Ontario isn't," he said.

"So as Ontario grows and northern Ontario doesn't grow, northern Ontario becomes a smaller percentage of the province's population."

Christian Provenzano is the mayor of Sault Ste. Marie. (Twitter)

Recently, the federal government rolled out a pilot program for Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot aims to allow employers in that region to hire people who aren't Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The goal is to increase the population in that area of the country.

Provenzano says a similar program could be used in northern Ontario.

"Our position is, our demographic challenges are as great as or greater than Atlantic Canada and that type of pilot program makes sense here in northern Ontario," he said.

"[We're calling] on the provincial and federal government to work with us to implement … a similar type of pilot program in northern Ontario."

Provenzano says other topics the mayors discussed included the opioid crisis and the upcoming provincial election.