Sudbury·THE NEXT 40

How many will call northern Ontario home in 2058? Population predictions hinge on immigration, climate change

Northern Ontario's population has been shrinking and aging for decades. Some experts predict immigration, technology and climate change will see more move north in the next 40 years.

The Next 40 envisions northern Ontario in the year 2058, as part of CBC Sudbury's 40th anniversary

The shrinking population of most northern Ontario towns and cities has become a top political issue in the region. (Erik White/CBC)

Ryi Hang Wang loves Sudbury in the summertime. She even likes the snow.

She came to Canada from China three years while her husband did his post-doctoral work.

Their daughter Emily was born in Sudbury a year ago.

But Wang isn't sure how long she'll live in her hometown. She says they are planning to go back to China in a few years.

Ryi Hang Wang came to Canada from China three years ago. Her daughter Emily was born in Sudbury, but she's not sure her family will stay in the long term. (Erik White/CBC)

Attracting and keeping immigrants has been one of the big challenges for northern Ontario and one of the big reasons the region's population is predicted, by some, to decline in the coming decades.

As part of our series The Next 40, imagining northern Ontario in 2058, we asked some experts to make some population predictions:

Northern Ontario Policy Institute president Charles Cirtwell: "We have to make the case that this is a place that benefits them to be, not a place where it benefits us to relocate. But a place where they can have a secure lifestyle, raise a family and build a life."

Demographer Michael Haan on the againg baby boom: "In 40 years a lot of that will be behind us, so we're going to have a population that looks radically different than the one we have now."

Futurist Richard Worzel: "It's quite possible that we could, at least in theory, live forever or at least until our money holds out."

Futurist Jim Carroll: "The Internet made geography go away. It permitted work to be done by anyone, from anywhere at anytime."

Hear the full episode by clicking here: 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?